How do you feel if you live side-by-side with tigers? Deep in the night, a tiger was in your garden, hoping that an easy ‘goat’ meal would be his nice dinner. What a relief if all he left was just a scratch mark on the wooden cage and the goat is safe.
Last weekend, I got an invitation to visit a remote village in Lampung, Southern Sumatra. This was an interesting trip. This village, Talang Sebelas, is a village close to the border of Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park. Driving to this village was like entering a wildlife zone. The area is a mix of dammar resin plantation (Shorea spp), oil-palm plantation, thick bushes and Imperata grassland, a perfect skulking place for tigers waiting for their prey. The calling of siamang (Hylobates syndactylus) from the top of dammar tree welcomed us. Wildlife encounters in this village is common.
At night, sunbear and porcupine would visit the garden, probably trying to find some ripe jackfruit, lime, or durian. During the day, a group of wild pigs and macaques may also wander in the oil-palm plantation or around the cassave vegetations in the garden. Houses are far apart. Road between houses is a non-asphalt which become so muddy after the rain and only 4-WD vehicle can reach this village.
Living in this area is tough. It’s tough for the human, tough for the goats, tough for the tiger. This is a good example of two overlapping landscapes, the human landscape and the biological landscape. Eliminating one may not be the correct answer. People need to live, raising their goats, cultivating their lands. Tigers need to live, finding enough prey. Boundary has no meaning for tigers. Released goat would serve as an easy prey for tigers.
For the people of Talang Sebelas, a low-cost but good design cage is enough. The idea is to let the tigers chase their natural prey. My friends from the Wildlife Conservation Society—Indonesia Program have designed a simple, common cage with additional low-priced barb wire around the cage, just enough to keep away the tiger from the goat. Cage roof should be cleared from twigs and branches, and goats should not be released unguarded. These are simple guidelines, just at an adequate dosage to let two different life share the same space………..
PS: similar story in Indonesian has been posted in here