Barisan Mountains, Southern Sumatra
- Bukit Barisan Selatan, Indonesia Photo
- ©WCS Indonesia Program
The Barisan Mountain range in southern Sumatra, Indonesia, includes more than 2,300 square miles of lowland and sub-montane forest, one of the island’s largest remaining tracts. At the southernmost tip of the range is Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, home to the critically endangered Sumatran tiger and the Sumatran rhinoceros, as well as Asian elephants, sun bears, bearded pigs, tapirs, gibbons, and leaf monkeys. More than 300 bird species live here, too, including the critically endangered Sumatran ground-cuckoo.
- Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park covers more than 1,150 square miles, while the protected forests of Bukit Balai Rejang cover around 1,150 additional square miles.
- More than 4,000 plant species grow in the area, including the world’s largest flower, Rafflesia, and the tallest flower, titan arum.
- More than 20 percent of the original forest area has been lost since 1990, mostly to conversion for coffee plantations.
The forests of the southern Barisan Mountains are hemmed in by villages, agriculture, and plantation forestry. Borders drawn up by people are meaningless for wildlife, particularly wide-ranging animals like Sumatran tigers and Asian elephants, which travel across boundaries in search of food, water, and shelter. Saving their remaining populations means maintaining their habitats throughout the landscape, inside and outside the park’s boundaries. WCS field scientists have estimated the number of tigers across the area at perhaps 70 to 80. But the big cats are increasingly threatened by habitat loss, poaching, and the illegal wildlife trade. Tigers are also killed when they come into conflict with local farmers.
WCS has worked in the southern Barisan Mountains since 1995. Our extensive conservation efforts in the region now include measures to combat poaching and illegal wildlife trade, and to mitigate conflicts between wildlife and humans. We also promote environmentally-friendly livelihoods and regional planning, and are helping to develop local government-run carbon-financed forest protection schemes. Our concerted efforts to address the threats to the local tiger population are paying off, as evidence points to a growing population—a first for Indonesia in recent times.
From the Newsroom
In this TV news segment, WCS’s Joe Walston is interviewed about the reasons behind a 2009 spate of Sumatran tiger attacks.
Indonesian authorities arrest a bird smuggler traveling through the island of Sumatra by bus, saving more than 20 rare birds—including the palm cockatoo—from becoming victims of the illegal wildlife trade.
A growing online black market is creating new demand for items like elephant ivory chopsticks, tiger claws and whiskers, and wallets made from clouded leopard skin. WCS’s Wildlife Crime Unit is working with Indonesian authorities to investigate the illegal Internet trade.
WCS-Russia director Dale Miquelle discusses the unique challenges of conserving Siberian tigers.