Goats For Hope

Current initiative

Published March 2019

Photo of an adult Sumatran tiger

Wildlife Conservation Society has been working with the Indonesian government to protect tigers by protecting livestock from tiger attacks by building predator-proof livestock corrals, organising night patrols to deter tigers from entering villages, and establishing a wildlife response unit that responds to reports of human-tiger conflict. In addition, communities are able to generate higher income by breeding higher quality breeder goats. These tactics have reduced the number of livestock loss to tigers by 80% (2016), villagers are more tolerant of tigers and they now provide intelligence about poachers to the relevant authorities. 

Lead

Location

Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park is located at the southern tip of Sumatra (approximately 324,000 ha). The northern part is mountainous with its highest point at Gunung Pulung (1,964 m), while its southern section is a peninsula. It is covered by montane forest, coastal forest, mangrove forest, and contains one of the island’s last stands of lowland forests. For this reason, the World Wildlife Fund has ranked it as one of the planet’s most biologically outstanding habitats and is working to conserve the park’s remaining Sumatran rhinos and tigers; it is also identified as the most important forest area for Sumatran tiger conservation in the world. The park is also famous for many endemic bird species that prefer foothill climates, and several species of sea turtle that nest along the park’s coastal zone.

Loss of habitat because of forest conversion into settlements, cultivation, and plantations have become the major threat to the park and survival of the endangered species that live in the park.

Illegal encroachment for coffee, pepper, and other agricultural plantations has gradually entered the park and contributed to a substantial loss of habitat. The clearing of forest in BBS also increases another serious to the endangered species: poaching.

One of the most impoverished and densely populated provinces in Sumatra can be found in the vicinity of the park, where the landscape is now dominated by agricultural fields, plantations (e.g., oil palm), and villages. 

The poaching and wildlife trade problem

Species affected Sumatran Tiger Panthera tigris sumatrae

Products in trade

Wildlife crime, including poaching and domestic trade of wildlife and wildlife species, as well as human-wildlife conflict, is a threat to the Park's wildlife, including the Critically Endangered Sumatran tiger.

Illegal-trade in tiger parts (bones, meat, skins) primarily for domestic markets drives poaching.

Human-tiger conflict is a particular issue that this project addresses. 

Overview of the problem

Rural communities living in proximity to the Park had little confidence in government programs intended to address human-tiger conflict and perceived many of these programs as imposing unjust rules limiting traditional use rights. As a result, government rules regarding trapping and hunting of tigers and their prey were ignored or flouted. Many families set traps for pigs and other tiger prey and encouraged professional poachers to rid them of tigers that preyed upon these sources of food.

Overall, the cost of living with tigers discouraged communities from engaging in anti-poaching activities and encouraged both retaliatory killings and support for professional tiger poachers.

The anti-IWT initiative

WCS has helped the government of Indonesia protect tigers by protecting livestock (mostly goats) from tiger attacks in villages near the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in southwestern Sumatra.

Through Goats for Hope, a Wildlife Response Unit works with local people to build tiger-proof enclosures to secure livestock at night, support night patrols that keep tigers at a distance from village livestock, and respond rapidly to community reports of human-tiger conflict. The project helps communities generate additional income by providing higher quality breeder goats.

The strategy

Decreasing the costs of living with wildlife

Preventive measures to deter wildlife
Reactive measures to deal with problem animals
Further detail

A Wildlife Response Unit works with local people to build tiger-proof enclosures to secure livestock at night, support night patrols that keep tigers at a distance from village livestock, and respond rapidly to community reports of human-tiger conflict.

Increasing livelihoods that are not related to wildlife

(Non-wildlife-based) enterprise development/support
Further detail

The project helps communities generate additional income by providing higher quality breeder goats

Has the initiative made a difference?

Within the first year of implementing Goats for Hope in the 11 villages in Talang, the number of goats and chickens killed by tigers declined by 80% and has continued to decline. Community members are now willing to halt the retaliatory killing of tigers and curb hunting tiger prey for food. Rather than helping professional hunters, they now provide actionable intelligence to the Wildlife Crime Unit.

The project has also changed community perceptions regarding the hunting of tigers and their prey. Communities increasingly understand that killing tiger prey within the park increases the likelihood that tigers will leave the park in search of food, thus increasing the threat to livestock. At the same time, communities have begun to recognise that there are benefits to having tigers in the park since they eat pigs that are the main source of crop damage.

Goats for Hope has been successful in changing the behavior of local communities to protect rather than kill tigers because the program began with something that communities really wanted to stop – tiger killing of livestock – and helped them realise that there were greater benefits from conservation than the killing of tigers and their prey.

In 2015, the results from a survey using camera traps has indicated that the population density of Sumatran tigers inside the park's protection zone has increased from an estimated 1.6 tigers per 100 km2 (total of 40-43 individuals) in 2002 to 2.8 tigers per 36 km2.

Furthermore, the proportion of male and female tigers recently recorded was 1:3, indicating that the tiger population in the National Park is in a healthy condition and breeding opportunity exists for many females within the areas surveyed.

What works and why

Goats for Hope has been successful in changing the behavior of local communities to protect rather than kill tigers because the program began with something that communities really wanted to stop – tiger killing of livestock – and helped them realise that there were greater benefits from conservation than the killing of tigers and their prey.

Organisers, donors and partners

For further information contact (peoplenotpoaching@gmail.com).