Project information

Sumatran Tiger Health Forum

To develop a surveillance programme across the whole of Sumatra to identify disease threats to wild tigers - and ways to reduce the risks.

This project is open ended. The STHF was set up in Sept 2013 and will need support for at least a further 3 years

Charity information: Wildlife Vets International

Wildlife Vets International logo
  • Need


    Infectious disease is emerging as a significant threat to wild tigers.

    The extent of this new threat has yet to be characterised, although several deaths in Russia and India have already been linked to infection with a dog virus - Canine Distemper Virus.

    There are worrying signs that this virus may also be infecting tigers on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

    Appropriate strategies to help reduce disease risks can only be based on surveillance data.


    WVI will facilitate the development of a local forum (the Sumatran Tiger Health Forum or STHF) of wildlife vets, laboratory specialists, field biologists and forestry staff to conduct disease survey work, and provide training in any aspect required.

    An informal start to this process has already been made.

    WVI will also advise on appropriate disease prevention strategies.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To establish the STHF Forum as a key group in in-situ Sumatran tiger conservation activities.


    » Engage consierable local veterinary interest and engagement with tiger conservation to establish a stable and productive STHF.
    » Establish standard operating procedures through regular meetings, training and distance support from the UK

    Activities will be written up in the STHF Annual report, including the annual analysis of disease surveillance data submitted.

    Aim 2

    To train vets in: safe immobilisation of tigers; biomedical sample collection; engagement with STHF


    » Regular hands on specific training programmes addressing needs identified by participating local vets.
    » An updateable manual of disease surveillance methods will be produced and made available to all vets involved.

    Medium term success will be shown through targetted veterinary action, such as vaccinating domestic dogs against Canine Distemper Virus to reduce exposure of tigers to infection.

    Aim 3

    To train vets and field biologists in wildlife medicine, disease surveillance and mitigation


    » Regular training in relevant aspects of wildlife medicine, disease surveillance and mitigation, including manuals.

    Medium term success will be shown through targetted veterinary action, such as vaccinating domestic dogs against Canine Distemper Virus to reduce exposure of tigers to infection.

  • Impact


    The long term aim is to develop a disease surveillance framework for Sumatran tigers that could be exportable to all tiger range states with only minor revision to address local circumstances.

    Success can only be demonstrated in the long term when such frameworks are adopted by wildlife agencies in a range of countries.


    Due to the long-term nature of disease surveillance activities, the key risk is a reduction of local engagement by wildlife vets who may be subject to enforced changes in their jobs due to career structures pertaining to Indonesia.

    This will be addressed by regular on-site and distance engagement by WVI to identify issues and facilitate solutions where necessary.


    STHF Annual reports and regular WVI reports from STHF activities will be provided to donors and published on the WVI website.

    Significant donors may be invited to view the activities of the STHF at first hand in Indonesia.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £13,200

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £4,000 Travel costs September 2015 Indonesian and WVI vet to attend STHF Annual meeting Sept 2015
      £2,500 WVI vet 2015 STHF Annual Meeting and training Consultant fees at conservation rate for training and meetings
      £2,500 WVI vet 5 days of remote support given throughout the year via email and training preparation
      £2,000 WVI vet attendance at STHF mid year meetings, March 2015
      £1,000 Travel costs March 2015 WVI vet getting to STHF mid year meetings
      £1,200 Annual project management fee covers cost of writing grant proposals, news articles, distributing reports, project logistics

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    IZVG LLP £2,500 Guaranteed
  • Background


    Sumatra is a large tropical island home to some 3-400 wild tigers. As such it plays an important role in tiger conservation.

    However, training in wildlife medicine is extremely poor yet the interest from local vets is high.


    1. Wild tigers
    2. Indonesian wildlife vets - increased knowledge and capacity to deal with disease problems in wildlife
    3. Indonesia - in helping to preserve their wild tiger populations.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Wildlife Vets International has a long history in engaging with the veterinary problems of large cat conservation programmes, has access to a wide range of specialists in the UK and beyond with relevant skills, and has worked in Indonesia since 2006.

    WVI has an excellent working relationship with a wide range of vets and field biologists involved with tiger conservation on Sumatra.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Dr John Lewis, MA, VetMB, PhD, MRCVS

    Dr Lewis is the lead vet on this project, and will be organising all activities pertaining to the STHF.

Sumatran tigers

Sumatran tigers


local vet gets to the wildlife medicine training