Sumatran tiger photo (not in wild, I might add): Silvain de Munck
Most of the time when the subject of Indonesia and wildlife comes across my desk it tends to be about the dire plight of the Orangutan. Today brings better news: The Southeast Asian nation’s dwindling populations of elephants and tigers have been granted a bit of a reprieve.
The government of Indonesia has committed to doubling the size of the Tesso Nilo National Park, one of the last places where the endangered Sumatran elephant and critically endangered Sumatran tigers are known to live.
With this commitment, the size of the Tesso Nilo National Park, created in 2004 in Riau Province, will increase in size from 94,000 acres to a total of 250,000 acres (213,000 in the park itself and an additional 47,000 of area managed by the park).
Elephant, Tiger Populations Have Declined Greatly in Past 25 Years
The Sumatran elephant population has declined by 84% in the past 25 years, and now stands at an estimated 210 individuals in Riau Province. Sumatran tigers have seen similar declines, the population being reduced by 70% since 1983, to a remaining population of 192 individuals.
Area With Greatest Biodiversity Also Area With Highest Deforestation
What’s more, according to WWF, Tesso Nilo has the highest lowland forest plant biodiversity known to science, with 4,000 plant species recorded so far and many more remaining nondescript. However, the region remains under threat from logging: Riau Province has the highest deforestation rate in Indonesia, losing 65% of its original forest cover in the past 25 years, 11% of which occurred simply in 2005 and 2006.
A Great Move, But Much More Needs to Be Done
WWF, which had been pressuring the Indonesian government for the expansion of the park, hailed the decision,
This is a momentous decision that offers hope for some of the planet’s most spectacular wildlife and forests. There is still much to do, however, as Sumatra’s forests continue to disappear to feed the growing global demand for pulp, paper and palm oil.
The head of WWF-Indonesia added,
Tesso Nilo is still under serious threat from illegal activities, but if we can protect the forests there, it will give some of Sumatra’s most endangered wildlife the breathing room they need to survive. And while we greatly appreciate this precedent for more protection from the Indonesian government, there are other areas on Sumatra that need safeguarding for the sake of its wildlife, its threatened indigenous peoples and to reduce the climate impacts of clearing.
More on Sumatra from WWF, :: Priceless Forests Harbor Untold Species
Indonesia, Deforestation, Extinction
Orangutan Could be First Great Ape to Become Extinct
UN Says Palm Oil Industry is Wiping Out the Orang Utan
Malaysia and Indonesia to Expand Domestic Palm Oil Biodiesel as Commodity Price Drops
Indonesia Peat Burning Emits 1/7th of Global CO2