Lenient poacher punishments undermine efforts to protect tigers
Our new report warns short prison sentences and small fines may not stop determined tiger poachers in Indonesia killing these beautiful, endangered animals
The report, "Examining the shifting patterns of poaching from a long-term law enforcement intervention in Sumatra," is the result of a study we funded. The study was carried out by Fauna & Flora International’s Indonesia Program, Indonesia Kerinci Seblat NP Management Authority, and University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation and Research Unit (WildCRU).
The report is based on tiger patrol records from Kerinci Seblat National Park, Indonesia, between 2005-2014 and was published this week in the scientific journal "Biological Conservation." It finds that efforts to protect tigers at the park were highly effective, but are undermined by lenient punishment for poachers.
"Tigers are in trouble. After being trapped and terrified in a poacher’s snare, they are cruelly slaughtered for their skins, claws and bones. Rangers work around the clock to protect these beautiful big cats, but their hard work needs to be supported by jail time and fines that will make poachers think twice before setting their snares," said Dr Neil D’Cruze, our head of wildlife research and policy, and contributing author.
We supported this research to help create a world where tigers can live safely in the wild. We also want to help end the unacceptable, horrific suffering tigers endure when they’re trapped in poachers’ snares and then killed for their body parts.
National Park patrols alone are not enough
During the decade studied, there were a total of 757 anti-poaching patrollers on foot, 3,713-patrol team days, and 13,947 km was walked. The teams detected and destroyed 231 tiger snares in the National Park, and led 24 enforcement operations that resulted in the arrest of 40 tiger poachers and traders.
90% of individuals arrested for tiger poaching in Kerinci Seblat were prosecuted.
But despite the Tiger Protection and Conservation Units’ thorough work, poachers are receiving average prison sentences of just one year, and fines of around 107 USD once caught.
Poaching is a devastating threat to tigers
There are only around 3,500 of these endangered animals left in the wild, and poaching is one of their biggest threats.
Deforestation, encroachment of habitat and poaching (for their skins, bones, teeth and claws) have devastated tiger populations across Asia, but countries with these big cats are working to increase their numbers.
Working to protect tigers in tourism
We’re working to protect tigers and other wild animals from the tourist entertainment industry.
More than 558,000 supporters helped us successfully urge TripAdvisor to end ticket sales to wildlife tourist entertainment venues, including attractions that offer cruel tiger selfies.