Greenpeace launches tour in Sumatra to end deforestation of key tiger habitat; Indonesian government estimates about one million ha. of forest is cleared every year

ROKAN HILIR, Indonesia , September 23, 2011 (press release) – Greenpeace today launched its “Save Tigers’ Home” Tour in Sumatra with a cultural blessing ceremony from local community. The goal of the month-long tour is to highlight the ongoing destruction of Sumatra’s last remaining forests and to mobilise the public to help stop this rampant deforestation. Sumatra’s last remaining forests are the key habitat for the critically endangered Sumatra tiger.

Local community leaders in Jumrah Village, Rokan Hilir, Riau Province, blessed five tiger-suited Greenpeace activists who are touring Sumatra on motorbikes, with a ‘Tepung Tawar’ ceremony to ward off evil spirits during the tour.

“Now Sumatra tigers often wander in to our village and we are frightened, there have been several recent casualties. The tigers come to our village because their home, the forest, is being destroyed by pulp and paper companies. We hope this Greenpeace Tour can convey our problems to the authorities, and especially the land tenure conflict we are dealing now,” said Jumrah Chief Leader, Sukardi Ahmad.

The ‘Save Tiger’s Home’ Tour was soft launched in Jakarta on 16th September 2011, with a ‘Silat Harimau’ martial art show, photo exhibition and speeches by prominent figures from Indonesian civil society, urging Government to review existing concessions, protect peatland and the forestry sector to implement a zero deforestation policy in their operations.

“On this tour, Greenpeace activists will bear witness to the forest destruction to show the public the scale of the problem and what is at stake if it is not stopped. We are asking all people to help us monitor the destruction and join us to save Indonesia’s rainforests by becoming a ’Tiger Eye’ (1)”, said Rusmadya Maharuddin, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Forests Campaigner.

The Sumatran tiger’s forest habitat is being destroyed, with only around 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild. The Indonesian government estimates that more than one million hectares of forest are being cleared every year. With the current rates of forest destruction, this magnificent animal that has inspired Indonesia’s rich culture, is likely to follow its predecessors, the Javanese and Bali tiger, into extinction.

“Protecting Indonesia’s remaining forests from companies like Asia Pulp & Paper is more important than ever before. Companies must stop their destructive practices, while the Government must review all existing concessions and protect peatland,” concluded Zulfahmi, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Forests Team Leader.

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