Road building plan in Sumatran park threatens Critically Endangered tigers

Jeremy Hance
May 03, 2011

 Mount Kerinci, Sumatra's largest volcano, is a part of Kerinci Seblat National Park. Image courtesy of Google Earth.
Mount Kerinci, Sumatra's largest volcano, is a part of Kerinci Seblat National Park. Image courtesy of Google Earth.

We initially reported that Kerinci Seblat National Park has been closed to the public since 2004 due to volcanic activity. However, the park itself is not closed, but only the peak of the volcano, Mount Kerinci, which lies within the park, is.

A plan to build four wide roads through Kerinci Seblat National Park in the Indonesian island of Sumatra threatens one of the world's most viable populations of the Critically Endangered Sumatran tiger subspecies (Panthera tigris sumatrae), reports the AP. Less than 500 Sumatran tigers remain in the wild with the population continuing to decline due to habitat loss from palm oil and paper plantations, poaching, and prey declines.

According to conservationists the roads would open up new areas for poaching and illegal logging, while creating barriers for tigers.

Mahendra Shrestha of Save the Tigers in Washington D.C. told the AP that the road proposal made a "mockery" of Indonesia's signing of the Global Tiger Recovery Program. Last year 13 tiger range nations, including Indonesia, agreed to double wild tiger populations worldwide by 2022.

Local officials want the 40-foot roads for 'evacuation routes' in case of emergencies. This would double the number of roads in the park.

This is not the first proposed road project in a protected area to concern tiger conservationists. A proposed road through Nam Et Phou Louey National Park in Laos could imperil the world's only known breeding population of Indochinese tigers.

In Sumatra, Kerinci Seblat National Park is home to many more species than Sumatran tiger, including Critically Endangered Sumatran rhinos; Sumatran elephants and Malaysian tapirs, both Endangered; and Sunda clouded leopards and sun bears, both Vulnerable. The parks contains thousands of other species including nearly 400 birds.

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Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (May 03, 2011).

Road building plan in Sumatran park threatens Critically Endangered tigers.