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Published: 21-Mar-2017

Written by: Amy Robbins

The Rangers of Tangkahan is a new community conservation initiative in North Sumatra, the only one if its kind, that aims to provide long term protection of the Leuser ecosystem buffer zone environment. The Leuser ecosystem is one of the worlds’ richest, yet least known and threatened forest ecosystems and acts as a life support to around four million people who live in and around it. The most significant issue in the buffer zone is human-wildlife conflict. As the human population continues to expand, combined with increasing habitat destruction and fragmentation there is increasing conflict with wildlife, particularly within forest-edge communities. Many of these communities rely on illegal activity such as wildlife poaching and hunting to help provide food and income.


These communities engage in agricultural practices right up to and into the Gunung Leuser National Park, which makes crop raiding and income loss a regular occurrence, thereby putting wildlife at risk of retribution or fear killing. The communities have little knowledge of the species living alongside them and a lack of understanding of sustainable agricultural practices that minimise the risk of wildlife conflict. Often they take matters into their own hands to lethally remove the wildlife that poses a threat to their livelihoods. Orangutan and elephant conflict occurs regularly along the forest edge within these communities, with elephants destroying dwellings and buildings as well as crops. Buffer zone use is largely unregulated and forest edge communities are increasingly encroaching on the National Park and its borders.


The Rangers of Tangkahan provide a protection service for the increasingly threatened buffer zone and are about to begin patrols for 2017. We have been fortunate to have had support from the reputable Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund, to enable employment for six months of a team of 10 rangers from Tangkahan as well as assistants from neighbouring communities, allowing the economic benefit to be more widespread.


Patrols from 2016 showed a reduction in the number of snares being set and the rangers began a socialisation program to help determine the level of wildlife conflict, the locals’ understanding of wildlife and help identify solutions for alternative income. They also started to document the incredible flora and fauna of the buffer zone, something that has never been done before. To continue to do this to a high standard, we are seeking the donation of a camera with an excellent zoom so please contact Raw if you are able to help.


The Rangers of Tangkahan met with program leader Amy and field coordinator Jess recently, to strategize for the coming 12 months. Together, we formulated a vision and mission and a number of objectives together with strategies to achieve them. We will shortly be releasing our strategic plan to help make the grant application process a little less intensive and this will be available on our website. Amy was able to deliver the rangers’ brand new uniforms, generously donated by DJL Marketing in New Zealand. The team looks incredibly professional and are excited to have high quality, quick-dry clothing to wear in the field.


We are incredibly fortunate to have had Raw Wildlife Encounters commit to supporting The Rangers of Tangkahan in 2017 through some of their outstanding eco-adventures. The Sumatran Wildlife Fundraising Adventure, North Sumatran Highlights tour and Forever Young tour all provide financial support to the program. Guests will be able to directly witness the impact the rangers and Raw are having on this fragile ecosystem and experience the magic of North Sumatra while making lifelong memories and friendships. 

 

We thank everyone for their ongoing support of this unique conservation program in 2017 and we look forward to bringing you updates from the field as the rangers head out on patrol.

 

 


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