Tribal community gripes about release of tiger into park
Oyos Saroso H.N. - The Jakarta Post - Bandarlampung
Tue, 07/21/2009 3:40 PM
Members of the Belimbing traditional community in Way Haru hamlet, Belimbing district, West Lampung regency, have complained about the release of a Sumatran tiger that has attacked 11 people.
They say the release of the man-eating tiger, named Salma, in the Tampang Belimbing (Tambling) forest inside the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park (TNBBS) is a subtle move to evict them.
Pangekahan is an enclave that was once part of the national park, but eventually grew apart from the park and became a village legally recognized by the government.
"President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called off the release here of three tigers from Aceh on June 5 because we put up a strong fight," community leader A. Zulqornain Syarif Gelar Suntan Panji Negara said recently.
"Suddenly, on July 12, the tiger from Jambi, which had attacked 11 people, was released near our village. Our lives are further threatened."
Zulqornain said a map drawn up during the Dutch colonial era showed the Tampang-Belimbing area, spanning around 30,000 hectares, was owned by the Belimbing traditional community, and legally recognized by the state.
After Indonesia's independence and under the New Order government, the area was incorporated into the TNBBS.
"We urge the government to respect the traditional community's existence," Zulqornain said.
"Evicting us from our own property implies a violation of our basic rights."
On July 22 last year, two of five Sumatran tigers caught by residents in Aceh were released in the Tambling Wildlife Nature Conservation area (TNWC) within the TNBBS. The management rights of the TNWC, spanning around 300 hectares, is entrusted to noted businessman Tomy Winata.
During the release of the two tigers, Forestry Minister M.S. Kaban and Winata assured the villagers the tigers were unlikely to stray into the village, due to the ample supply of prey within the TNWC, including deer, wild boar, monkeys and wild buffalo.
Ichwanto M. Nuh, head of the Nusantara Traditional Community Forum's Lampung branch, said the Belimbing community had not made the most of their farmland in the past year, and lived in fear of tiger attacks.
The West Lampung regency administration previously planned to relocate 164 families from the Belimbing tribe to safer areas.
West Lampung Regent Mukhlis Basri had sent a letter to the forestry ministry for assistance with the relocation, but limited funds and licensing constraints are holding back the move.