Watch out for the tiger: Police ban camping activities on Mount Dempo following attacks – National
Yulia Savitri (The Jakarta Post)
Fri 22 November 2019
Police in Pagaralam in south Sumatra have temporarily banned camping activities on Mount Dempo following a series of tiger attacks this month.
On November 16, several residents reported seeing a Sumatran tiger wandering around a tea plantation in the mountain foothills. This observation quickly circulated on social networks and aroused the concern of the inhabitants of the region.
On the same day, Irfan, 20, a resident of Musi Banyuasin regency, was wounded in the face after being attacked by a tiger while camping in the Tugu Rimau area. The next day, Kuswanto, a 57-year-old coffee farmer from Lahat Regency, was killed by a tiger.
The Deputy Chief of Police of Pagaralam, Comr. Tri Wahyudi said the letter detailing the camping ban was sent to the city administration through the tourism agency. The police decided to temporarily suspend all camping activity because they feared another attack could take place.
“We have also asked the tourism agency to help us ban camping activities around the site until the situation returns to normal,” Tri said on Thursday.
Separately, the director of the Sumatran Natural Resources Agency (BKSDA Sumatra), Geinman Hasibuan, said the locations where the attacks took place were beyond the agency’s surveillance scope, as Tugu Rimau is in made a conservation area.
The BKSDA has, however, deployed a team and vets – who are equipped with traps and cages – to stand guard in the area if a tiger appears and engages with humans.
“We will return [the tiger] back to its original habitat so locals don’t have to worry about it anymore, ”Geinman said.
He added that his team are still looking for the causes of the tiger attacks. However, he suspected that two factors had triggered the attacks, such as illegal hunting, which involved the theft of baby tigers, as well as illegal logging, which destroyed tiger habitat.
The attacks are unlikely to have taken place due to a lack of water supply or a forest fire, as the areas where the attacks took place were not burned during the 2019 dry season and had an abundant water supply, he said.
“The tiger might have felt disoriented while looking for food. It accidentally entered a human habitation and felt stuck,” Geinman said.
In order to defuse the conflict between humans and tigers, BKSDA Sumatra has continuously informed the public about the tiger protection law, especially the ban on hunting or killing them.
The BKSDA also called on the public to coordinate with the agency and release any tiger into the forest if it gets trapped. The agency also asked residents to be wary of sightings of tigers in the area and to maintain coordination with the local administration.
“So far, there are only 15 Sumatran tigers left in South Sumatra. We haven’t received any tiger hunting reports in the past three years, but that doesn’t mean we need to stop informing the public about protecting tigers, ”Geinman says. (dpk)