Environmental groups firmly against new breeding center
Oyos Saroso H.N. , The Jakarta Post , Bandarlampung | Thu, 07/30/2009 12:55 PM | The Archipelago
NGOs are opposing the government's plan to turn the Tampang-Belimbing area, located within the South Bukit Barisan National Park (TNBBS), into a Sumatra tiger breeding center because it is located next to a human settlement.
They have also questioned the validity of the two entities' operating licenses, the Tambling Wildlife Nature Conservation (TNWC) and PT Adhiniaga Kreasi Nusa of Artha Graha Network companies owned by businessman Tomy Winata, which are not applicable to wildlife breeding and conservation.
"The business licenses are for tourism and nature conservation, so they are not valid for tiger breeding. Even for tourism purposes, they have to allow public access," Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) campaign manager Mukri Friatna said Wednesday.
He added that becoming a wildlife breeder was not easy because the company had to meet a number of criterias stipulated in Government Regulation No. 18/1999 on plant and wildlife exploitation.
"According to the decree, wildlife breeding must be done in adequate and accessible facilities. Soldiers are guarding the TNWC and people cannot simply enter the premises," said Mukri.
Mukri speculated the breeding and conservation activities were likely to be linked to carbon trade trading activities in the longer-term. "United States Ambassador Cameron R. Hume together with dozens of other ambassadors visited the area and indirectly supported the inclusion of TNBBS as one of the forested areas to be dedicated to carbon trading," said Mukri.
The Kawan Tani environmental group that has thus far been supporting and counselling coastal communities in Lampung, also protested. Group coordinator Kurniadi said the tiger breeding drive in Tambling, like it or not, would drive away the community who had been living in the forest for centuries.
"The Belimbing tribespeople living around Tambling within TNBBS are legal citizens protected by law. They have the right to stay there because their village is an enclave, an area whose status has been excluded from the national park," said Kurniadi.
Lampung Governor Sjachroedin Z.P. said the visit the ambassadors made to the TNBBS and the tiger breeding site were business as usual. "It's a good thing *they visited the premises*, otherwise they would have never seen the site's condition."
The US ambassador supported the TNBBS conservation efforts because the national park was in a much better state than other parks in Indonesia, said Sjachroedin.
Tomy Winata told The Jakarta Post earlier he was interested in breeding tigers in TNWC because he was concerned about the environment and also because it was on of his hobbies. He said he spent hundreds of millions of rupiah every month just on operating costs.
"We have not opened the TNWC area to the public because we are afraid it will disturb the animals," he said.
Tommy has been given concession rights for a 100-hectare piece of land in the TNWC. The Forestry Ministry issued a decree in 1992 stating the Artha Graha Group was in charge of managing the area.
Besides being a tiger conservation area, the TNWC area is also home to hundreds of deer, wild buffalo and various bird species.
Tomy is reportedly in acquiring rights to another 50,000 hectares, one-seventh the size of the total TNBBS area of 360,000 hectares.
Besides a female man-eating tiger named Salma from Jambi, the conservation area is also home to three tigers from Aceh awaiting to be released in the TNBBS. Activists and the Belimbing traditional community so far have strongly protested the release of the feline mammal.
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