The research is now in full swing and we have already surveyed five 2×2 km cells in the buffer zone of the Rimbang Bailing Nature Reserve. We have been placing camera traps and looking for tiger prey species as well as signs of illegal logging and poaching. Half of the team went for an overnight trip, going for three hours by boat upriver, spending the night camping on the riverbank and surveying two cells. They came back with tales of steep hills and a great night out.
The team that stayed at base also surveyed one cell per day and visited two villages to conduct interviews with locals to help better understand the perception of tigers in the region. There seems to be a “not in my backyard” attitude with everyone believing tigers are good for Indonesia and the ecosystem, but fear is strong and as such they don’t want tigers close to where they live. In Tanjung Belit village we also visited the recycle shop, where women are turning used plastic packaging into beautiful bags. This is an initiative spearheaded by WWF, our local partner organisation.
A group of school children from a nearby village came to visit the research station. Gia from WWF explained to the children and us about the Rimbang Baling Reserve and its ecosystem, highlighting the importance of the Subayang River system. Afterwards we got the opportunity to answer questions from the curious children and play games in honour of Global Tiger Day, which was on 29 July. Global Tiger Day was coined in 2010 in St Petersburgh, Russia, during a tiger summit there in an attempt to highlight dwindling tiger numbers worldwide. Peter from Austria summed the it up well: “It is so important for the children to know about their natural heritage and it is delightful to interact with them.”