How should we react when we hear that two of those tigers are going to be released when we (mistakenly) thought that the release point is about 17 km from our research camp in Way Canguk (the actual distance is about 28 km) and the tiger is definitely has at least 17 km2 home range? Well, the tigers were finally released on July 22. Prior to this news, most of us were sometimes walked alone in the forest. To some extent, I used to do it myself at least in an area where I am quite familiar. Wild tiger, of course roams in the area and two of our staff have been seen the glimpse of movement of the tiger. But for the last ten years of this research station, no human-wildlife conflicts were ever encountered.
Yes, prior to this news, I had a week of blast in the area. My friends, men, walk faster and taller than me, are usually walked in front of me probably because of the safety reason. Well, I never complain but this system has definitely delimits my chance to see wildlife. There is particularly no hope to take a picture. So, this time I’ve decided to walk alone to find some butterflies to add to my butterfly picture collection. On average, I saw around 18-20 species each day which was so great. The post-burn area offered the best place to watch. Many invasive species such as Lantana camara and Chromolaena odorata are thrived in the area and attracted many butterflies. This post-burn area is also the right place to do birdwatching because of the open habitat and it attracts many insectivores and edge species.
Despite the best time I had, I suddenly remembered my last visit to Talang sebelas, a village at the border of this national park. The alang-alang grassland with the height of mine is obviously a place for a tiger’ skulking and waiting for its prey. If it applies to Talang sebelas, it surely applies to Way Canguk, not to mention that these relocated tigers have already held the man-eater label. Precautions must be taken. For the time being, starting the next day of the release, nobody should walk alone for a long distance and should suppress their curiosity of chasing wildlife, particularly tiger’s prey.
The man-eaters are probably showed an altered behavior and we certainly hope that prey abundance in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park offers them a more fascinating prey hunting than us. We are working and living in the forest. We are supposed to be field biologists, conservationists. The positive thinking should be upon us… Well, there goes my butterfly chasing of the week as I have to go back home.
Anyway, I went out with 6 other people. After a complete briefing on how we should react and behave in the forest after the tiger release, four of these people had just walked fast and left me behind. The other two were still long way behind me. So I was practically walking alone for quite a while. Well, I should be positive…….