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International Tiger Day: Indonesia’s chance to celebrate the precious Sumatran Tiger

International Tiger Day is celebrated annually on July 29 and is a great opportunity to showcase the incredible tiger population that resides inside our borders.

Indonesia’s Sumatran tigers are fantastic creatures that inspire generations, their appearance in stories is always dramatic and compelling. In South Sumatra, they are known as “puyang” which comes from the Indonesian word “poyang”, meaning “ancestor.” It is a story about a man that transformed into a tiger to safeguard nature. But puyang is not a mythical creature, our tigers are real.

The Sumatran tiger is one of the jewels in the crown of Indonesia’s rainforest wildlife, alongside the Sumatran Elephant and Helmeted Hornbill. This fantastic species thrives in our globally important lowland tropical rainforests. Not only are these rainforests fantastic places for wildlife, they support indigenous people’s livelihoods and sustainable economic development.

One of the "datuk" living in the Hutan Harapan ecosystem restoration area in Jambi. (Photo: Hutan Harapan documentation)

For the Batin Sembilan of central and South Sumatra, the tiger is their ancestor, locally known as "datuk". They have been wandering in the forests and living in harmony with tigers for generations. They depend on the forest and have established ways to use the forest while sustaining the forest, their future and that of the tiger by doing things like tapping trees for latex, collecting honey and maintaining sustainable rubber plantations. 

The Sumatran tiger is a symbol of our country’s identity, our strength, and our connection to nature.

Hutan Harapan, home to Sumatran biodiversity and the Batin Sembilan indigenous community

The choices we make today are shaping the world for those who follow. We want a land that is able to celebrate International Tiger Day and be the envy of our neighbours whose mythical creatures live only in books.

So join us in celebrating this amazing creature whose home we share.