Last refuge

Rangers clear poach­ers’ traps from a north Su­ma­tra rain­for­est which is cru­cial to con­serve the wildlife.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Ecowatch -

IN the depths of In­done­sia’s dense Leuser rain­for­est, a group of rangers are search­ing for traps set by poach­ers which are en­dan­ger­ing rare wildlife.

Sci­en­tists and con­ser­va­tion­ists con­sider this place, which falls mostly within Acheh prov­ince in north­ern Su­ma­tra is­land, to be among the most im­por­tant forests left in South-East Asia.

It is the last place of suf­fi­cient size and qual­ity to sup­port vi­able pop­u­la­tions of rare species like orang­utans, Su­ma­tran tigers, rhinoceroses, ele­phants, clouded leop­ards and sun bears.

In 2015, hun­dreds of traps were con­fis­cated monthly in Leuser. But now, fewer than 10 are found ev­ery month, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal con­ser­va­tion NGO Fo­rum Con­ser­va­tion Leuser.

“The rangers are trained to track signs in­di­cat­ing that there were poach­ers in the area, such as foot­steps,” said Rudi Pu­tra, head of the fo­rum.

Some traps are de­signed to snare an­i­mals’ feet. Oth­ers con­sist of spears set high up in trees, which would fall when a trap is sprung. The rangers also watch for signs of de­for­esta­tion such as il­le­gal log­ging, and col­lect data from the for­est for fur­ther re­search.

Poach­ers typ­i­cally set up traps to cap­ture ele­phants, tigers and bears so they can sell them il­le­gally and make money.

– Pho­tos: AFP

An In­done­sian for­est ranger with a trap set up by poach­ers to cap­ture ele­phants in Acheh, Su­ma­tra.

The Leuser ecosys­tem is the last place of suf­fi­cient size and qual­ity to sup­port vi­able pop­u­la­tions of Su­ma­tran tigers, orang­utans, rhi­nos, ele­phants, clouded leop­ards and sun bears.

A ma­jes­tic water­fall in the Leuser rain­for­est of Acheh.

Dis­man­tling traps set up by poach­ers to cap­ture bears and tigers.

For­est rangers mak­ing their way through the Leuser rain­for­est, which is vi­tally im­por­tant for wildlife con­ser­va­tion.

Ex­am­in­ing traps set up by poach­ers to cap­ture bears and tigers.

An orang­utan has its home here.

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