Indonesia is set to get Rp 300 billion ($33.3 million) to double its wild tiger population by 2022, as part of a global initiative to bring the iconic species back from the brink of extinction.
Endah Murningtyas, the deputy for natural resources and the environment at the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas), said on Tuesday that the funding would come from the Global Tiger Recovery Program, an initiative of the World Bank.
She said the money would be released over several years, with the eventual goal being to double Indonesia’s population of Sumatran tigers from the current estimated 450-700 adults.
The Sumatran tiger, the smallest of the five remaining tiger subspecies in the world, is also the most threatened. Categorized as critically endangered, it is just a step away from being extinct in the wild.
It is the only tiger left that is endemic to Indonesia. Two other subspecies, the Javan tiger and the Balinese tiger, were driven to extinction in the 1930s and 1980s.
Darori, the Forestry Ministry’s director general of forest protection, said efforts to save the species had so far focused more on rehabilitating tigers caught in traps or in conflict with humans, with little emphasis on actual conservation.
He attributed this to the dearth of funding allocated for the conservation of tigers and their habitats. He said the funding would go some way toward making up for the shortfall, but stressed that more money should also be raised domestically for the cause.
“We invite companies to contribute through their corporate social responsibility programs,” Darori said.
“The total amount of CSR funding from companies in Indonesia is around Rp 20 trillion a year, so if we could just set aside Rp 1 trillion for tiger conservation, it would go a long way.”
He said there were still only a handful of companies active in conservation efforts. Among them are the Artha Graha Group, which funds a tiger conservation zone inside the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in southern Sumatra, and Asia Pulp & Paper, which is developing a tiger observation center in Riau.
Darori said the Forestry Ministry was also planning to set up a 300-hectare tiger park of its own.