A Competition to Save the Sumatran Tiger
April 25, 2010
Tasa Nugraza Barley
Listen up. If you are between 18 and 25 years of age, are concerned about saving the Sumatran tiger from extinction and live in Indonesia or Germany, then there is a competition that is just for you. Forest Friends, a joint program launched this month by the Indonesian and German chapters of the environmental group World Wildlife Fund, is seeking people to blog about Sumatran tigers and the Sumatran forest.
“This program’s goal is to facilitate the development of creative ideas from young people for saving the environment,” said Annisa Ruzuar, WWF Indonesia’s communications officer for the forest, species and fresh-water program.
Annisa said the group chose to focus on the Sumatran tiger in conjunction with WWF’s Year of the Tiger campaign, which was launched this year.
WWF is an international nongovernmental organization that works on issues regarding conservation, research and the restoration of the environment. The organization is the largest of its kind in the world, with more than five million supporters.
Until May 15, participants can create a blog with articles that discuss the competition’s theme, “Real action to conserve the forest and environment.”
Annisa said participants were encouraged to illustrate their stories with cool photos and short movies. Three participants each from Indonesia and Germany judged to have the best blogs will then be selected to compete in the final.
WWF will form three teams comprised of one person each from Indonesia and Germany. They will collaborate online to come up with creative plans and ideas to save the Sumatran tiger from extinction, as well as preserve the forest and all its inhabitants. Teams will then be asked to deliver their proposals via an online application provided by WWF.
The winning team will be determined based on the number of online fans they are able to amass. Ten trees will be planted in Sumatra forest for each fan the teams are able to acquire.
The Indonesian from the first-place team in the Forest Friends program will be given the chance to visit WWF’s field office in Germany. The winner from Germany, as well as the second and third-place finishers from Indonesia, will be given the chance to visit WWF’s field office in Sumatra.
Annisa said the program was designed as an effective medium to allow young people from the two countries to exchange information on issues related to environmental conservation.
“We believe that environmental conservation is a global issue. Thus, it requires involvement from people around the world,” she said.
Annisa gave one example of how the countries are interconnected when it comes to the environment. “If people in Germany don’t use paper efficiently, this will negatively impact the forest in Sumatra, because that is where the paper comes from.”
She said that in 1985, Sumatra had 25 million hectares of forest covering about 57 percent of the land. But due to illegal logging and conversion, there were just 13 millions hectares of forest covering about 30 percent of the island in 2007.
This situation has had an impact on animals in the forest, including the highly endangered Sumatran tiger. Annisa said Sumatra was the only place in Indonesia where tigers could still be found.
According to research by a number of institutions, including WWF, aggressive hunting by humans caused the Bali tiger and the Javanese tiger to disappear in the 1930s and 1970s, respectively.
Other tiger subspecies, including the Caspian tiger, have also been totally wiped out. Among those that remain today are the Siberian, Bengal, Indochinese, South China and Malayan tigers.
Annisa said the Sumatran tiger faced a major threat as its habitat continued to decrease. Based on WWF research, there are only around 400 of the tigers left in the wild. She said that by supporting the Forest Friends program, people would help to save the remaining tigers.
“The more trees we are able to plant, the more tigers we will be able to save.”