A TIGER CALLED CORINA
How can we save our precious animals from extinction? Save our beautiful lush natural forests from disappearing? Have clear sparkling rivers and stop pollution flowing into our deep blue sea? Can we have a New Earth after Covid-19?
Life on earth depends on us. We are the masters of this planet and its future. We, humans, control the world. The only way we can protect our endangered species is by protecting their habitats and source of food.
What if our best memories came from experiences we never planned or expected?
As her rehabilitation took place during the time of Covid, she was named Corina. A memory in time never to be forgotten.
When Corina came to the rehabilitation centre in Western Sumatra, she weighed around 77.8 kgs. Her front right leg had severe injuries from being ensnared in a wire trap. After nine months of treatment at Dharmasraya Sumatran Tiger Rehabilitation Centre (PRHSD) in Western Sumatra, Corina was finally released back into the wild on December 20th, 2020.
Corina was sedated while her GPS collar was fitted. The vet estimated her to be under five years old, measuring 170 centimetres in length and now weighing at least between 85 to 90 kgs.
She was placed into her rehabilitation cage on the Kampar Peninsula, providing her time to acclimatize with the peat swamp forest condition, new smells, sounds and the feel of her surroundings after the temperate climate of Dharmasraya. There was a pungent smell of dead chicken carcases in her cage. She had been well fed. “As we were about to release her, she looked at us with wide, wild eyes and wrinkled up her nose in a growl”, said one of the rescue team.
Corina charged out of her holding cage, down a narrow path created with strong green netting on either side. Her back legs kicking up dirt, with long graceful leaps as she disappeared into the dense jungle of Sumatra. Ear-piercing shrills of birds scattering into the bright sky above. The sound of the last rustle of her departure. Then it was silent. She was finally free. One could hear her booming roar, a growl, some grunting as she faded into the distant dense jungle. It was as though she was saying thank you and that she was home, free. A bittersweet situation as tears welled up in the eyes of her rescuers, knowing they would never forget this incredible moment. Once again Corina can live wild and free.
The jungle heat was stifling, sticky, as a hot breeze ruffled the leaves on the trees. In the distance the earthy smell of an oncoming afternoon storm.
The government, non-Government Societies, and Corporate all came together and worked together to save Corina. Saving one Tiger may seem small, but it is not.
The Kampar Peninsula is a diverse lowland swamp forest landscape, including mixed peat swamp forest, riparian forest, plantation, tall and short pole forest to a wide range of potential tiger prey species.
Sumatran Tiger population as of December 2018 was no more than 600 on the island. Tigers play a vital role to the environment, and so preserving the peatlands is essential.
Joe Yaggi, a producer, and conservationist, once read a quote that inspired him. It stated that though conservation can be messy, muddy, smelly, bite and stink, and most of the time, wet, the saddest of all is that extinction is silent.
Do you want to live in a silent world, never again hearing wild animals? Let your legacy be remembered on this earth, never dying, but forever living. Timeless. There are so many opportunities to volunteer with and donate to wildlife conservation groups! Volunteer work never ends, and it is rewarding. Let us keep it alive, support this outstanding work and education forever remembered to the world. Let us keep our world evergreen.
At Kerinci, where the Flora and Fauna International Tiger Protection Team is supported, serious threats continue in tiger habitats. From illegal forest smallholders, for coffee in highland areas of the park and, in the west and south-west of the national park, for palm oil.
Around four hundred to five hundred wild tigers are left on the island of Sumatra and are classified as critically endangered.
There are three tropical rainforest national parks in Sumatra. These protected areas are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites because of their outstanding scenic beauty, ecological and biological processes, and natural habitats for long-term conservation. They have been placed on the danger list to help overcome threats posed by poaching, illegal logging, agricultural encroachment, and plans to build roads through the sites. These national parks have varied habitats and outstanding biodiversity, making up 50% of the total plant variety on the island. There are many endangered species on the island, from mammals, reptiles, birds, and plants.
Wild tigers can live between 15 and 20 years, and in captivity, data suggests even more for tigers in zoos.
Sumatran tigers eat mainly wild pigs, deer, and primates such as macaques. Tigers are powerful animals and can take down prey up to four times their size. Being ambush predators, tigers will hunt whatever is available, including fish, birds and humans.
Forests are generally abundant with prey, though problems arise when forest-dwelling communities lay snares to catch pigs and deer for their consumption.
When the tiger’s prey is significantly depleted, a wild tiger is more likely to stray into more populated areas to kill livestock, causing serious and potentially fatal conflict issues with the local people. Snares laid down by the locals to snare wild boar or other animals, are also capable of wounding or killing a tiger.
FFI Tiger Protection Team warned of a new trend threatening the Sumatran tiger in 2011. Referred to as a poach-to-order coupled with a black market rise in the value of wild tiger parts, this led to an increase in poaching activity? Poaching is not a crime just committed by low-level criminals; it is led by highly organised criminal syndicates. Conservation projects have significantly reduced this threat by carrying out intelligence-led investigations, which in 2017 led to the arrest and conviction of on average one poacher or trader a month.
Due to illegal trade, people hunt endangered species. Wildlife has an important role to play in the environment and therefore we need to preserve nature and its contents, being more vigilant in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem during these uncertain times of Covid-19.
Tigers live in dense sub-mountain, mountain forest to lowland forest and peat forest to survive. All they need is a safe space to live and access to food and mates. In Sumatra, towards the end of the Ramadan fast, traps are laid by the local communities, which creates competition between the communities and tigers for the same food. These rudimentary traps can seriously injure or kill tigers.
Tigers are left vulnerable to diseases such as Canine Distemper Virus, (CDV), as well as a host of genetic problems caused by a reduced breeding pool when they are fragmented into small groups. Therefore, it is so important to be able to track the tigers by GPS collars.
Wild Cats Conservation Alliance is a partnership between the Zoological Society of London and Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation. Their mission is to save wild tigers and Amur leopards for future generations, raising awareness of their status and funding carefully chosen conservation projects. The current project name is “Kerinci Seblat Sumatran Tiger Protection Project 2000 – 2022”. This project is an ongoing project which was launched in May 2000 and is a collaboration between Kerinci Seblat National Park (KSNP) and Fauna and Flora International (FFI).
Joe Yaggi is the producer and director of this project. He is also the creative director of “Jungle Run Projects”, an independent production house located in Bali, having created many films about the wild, culture, and wild animals.
The aim is to sustain a natural increase in Sumatran tiger populations in Kerinci Seblat National Park through reduced threat to tiger, prey, and habitat. With effective collaborations between the forest communities, local civil society, national and local government, this can be achieved. The Kerinci Seblat Tiger protection project objectives are:
Firstly, by detecting and containing direct and indirect threats to Sumatran tigers through conserving and protecting wild Sumatran tigers, their habitat, and prey.
Secondly, to investigate and identify poachers and illegal wildlife traders, their networks, and trade routes, supporting law enforcement where evidence is available.
Thirdly, the Tiger Protection Conservation Units (TPCUs) conduct fair and appropriate law enforcement directly while on patrol. Partnering with other government agencies outside the national park and law enforcement leverages. This has resulted in a reduced threat to the tiger, prey, and habitat, as well as poachers and forest crime more widely.
Responding swiftly to human-tiger conflicts reported to protect both tigers and forest-edge community livelihoods.
There are six Tiger Protection Units operating. Units are led by a National Park Ranger with ranger members from forest-edge communities. Operational under day-to-day direction from young national park managers who report to the director of the national park.
Carina has a GPS collar which monitors her activity, and enables the rescue team to observe her.
A male tiger will explore an area of around 52 km2 and a female a much smaller area of 27 km2. Their average lifespan in the wild is about 15 years, and in captivity about 20 years. They can reach up to eight feet in size and weigh 117 kg or more, the male being much bigger.
As hard as it is to accept, nobody knows what’s going to happen during these uncertain times.
If we want to thrive during these uncertain times, we need to choose to adapt and embrace our challenges, with the firm intention of allowing them to transform us.
As you embrace life’s uncertainties during this pandemic, be encouraged to make a difference, no matter how small you think it is. It will still make a difference.
Corina will always be remembered in our hearts; how can we forget her. Who knows how far her gene pool will spread, and how many offspring she will produce? Do the right thing, protect our Tigers, protect our wildlife. We just need to remember this time of Covid, and we will remember Corina and her new life of hope.