Poaching pressure on the rise during the holy month of Ramadan

This is the fasting month of Ramadan, which means no food and crucially, no water from dawn to dusk, for the millions of Muslims around the globe taking part.

Ramadan makes patrols in Kerinci Seblat National Park on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, even tougher than usual. It’s a common misconception that things slow down during Ramadan, and whilst this is may be true for some, the reality for the Tiger Protection & Conservation Units (TPCU’s) guarding the national park and its wildlife, is that the pace gets even more frantic.

People like to break their fast with special dinners and treats of often exotic origins. Poachers are more than happy to offer a nice bit of (poached) venison, and sadly, in the month before Idul Fitri – the most significant Muslim festival in the Islamic Calendar – a huge surge in deer poaching pressure weighs down some areas around the park. Deer are key tiger prey and the snares used to entrap them are often strong enough to hold and kill a tiger. This means that the joint Fauna & Flora International – Kerinci Seblat TPCU teams, fasting or not fasting, have to be able to conduct heightened patrol routines to combat and deter this seasonal poaching.

Hari Raya, a huge celebration marking the end of Ramadan, only adds to the incentive to poach. A massive celebration, Hari Raya is a very costly affair – for both poachers and their prey due to the looming expense of the celebration. The team leaders have developed a novel approach to tackle these two drivers of poaching with the ‘Great Kerinci Snare Sweep.’

Now a much-loved and highly competitive annual competition, each patrol member is scored points for the number of traps they each find and retrieve from the park. Those who remove the most snares receive a bonus to share with their families over the holidays.

The Great Kerinci Snare Sweep is both a thank you for the team’s year-round commitment and hard work and an incentive for conducting the amplified patrol routines at a time when fasting makes others more likely to sleep than to scale-up physical activity!

Finally, we can announce the winners of the Great Kerinci Snare Sweep. First place with 3230 points is Unit 1, led by Samsul and Wasa (including Herman the driver who decided to be a ranger for the last six weeks so he could be part of the competition!). Second place was snatched with 2910 points by Unit 5 – Seven X and his super team in Bengkulu. And in a very respectable third place, Boy and Manatek and the team from Unit 4 – with 2300 points.

Fun and games aside, FFI would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to all the TCPU’s and other tiger team members, for the work you all do day after day, often under very difficult circumstances. Terima kasih banyak.