Camera traps capture snapshots of conservation success in Sumatra

© CI/photo by Tory Read

This post was co-authored by Agnes Batuara.

Sumatra’s biodiversity is at a critical juncture — widespread forest clearing, wildlife poaching and land-use intensification has put much of the island’s astonishing flora and fauna under considerable threat.

Batang Gadis National Park sits in the heart of the Island. This 72,803-hectare national park is a critical refuge for biodiversity, being identified both as an Endemic Bird Area and Key Biodiversity Area. These recognize it as the highest priority for global conservation efforts. The national park also forms part of a larger block of connected forest that extends some 400,000 hectares. Conservation International through its Sustainable Landscapes Partnership initiative is collaborating with the national park’s management authority to conduct wildlife monitoring and introduce a range of practical conservation tools. As a result of this partnership, Batang Gadis National Park has now become one of the most effective protected areas in the country.


Park rangers check one of three camera traps they have set up in Batang Gadis National Park in Mandailing Natal, North Sumatra, to monitor wildlife. On this day they found photos of a bear, a tapir and a monkey. (© Conservation International/photo by Tory Read)

Wildlife monitoring

To comprehensively assess the park’s wildlife, we deployed 120 camera traps over a two-year period. The results underscore the extraordinary importance of the area. The cameras confirmed that there are significant populations of species such as the Sunda Pangolin (Manis javanica), Sumatran Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi ssp. diardi), Tapir (Tapirus indicus), Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris ssp. sumatrae) and Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus). All of these animals are threatened and have declining populations.

The cameras also captured six species categorized as endangered by the IUCN Red List including the first sighting in the national park of the endemic Sumatran Ground-cuckoo ( Carpococcyx viridis). Thought to be extinct for nearly a century, this enigmatic forest bird is one of Indonesia’s most threatened. Its population is estimated to be around 50-249 mature individuals. The sighting occurred approximately 200 kilometres further north than any previous records. This is very significant and suggests that a new population of the Sumatran Ground-cuckoo has been discovered. Unfortunately, hunting continues to pose a threat.



Sumatran Ground-cuckoo (Carpococcyx viridis) on the sun dappled forest floor. (© BTNBG and CI)


Sumatran Tiger that have been captured in the area of Batang Gadis National Park (© BTNBG and CI)



Male Great Argus (Argusianus argus). (© BTNBG and CI)



Image of Clouded Leopard captured in Batang Gadis National Park (© Cameratrap TNBG and Conservation International)


Paul van Nimwegen is a consultant for CI Indonesia. Agnes Batuara is the conservation and forest officer for the Sustainable Landscape Partnership in Indonesia.