Erni Suyanti, UNAIR Alumnus “Kartini”, Savior of Sumatran Tiger

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Drh. Erni Suyanti Musabine, after a seminar in UNAIR (Photo: Bambang Bes)

UNAIR NEWS – Brown complexioned woman with a ponytail stepped her foot again in her alma mater, Universitas Airlangga (UNAIR). The campus has educated her to be a veterinarian. About an hour she made hundreds participants amazed in the Eco-tourism seminar held on Sunday April 10 when she tamed wild animals, especially tigers in the jungle of Sumatera.

For her achievement, no wonder if Erni Suyanti Musabine, a “Kartini” of UNAIR alumnus had received media attention in Indonesia. She was known as the first savior of live tigers in 2007. In the media especially television show “Kick Andy” and “Hitam Putih”, dr. Yanti was known as an individual who succeeded in saving Sumatran Tigers from extinction.

She is now working at Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), Bengkulu, handling wild animals’ conservation. Her interest on wild animals started when she was a student of Veterinary Medicine FKH UNAIR 1994. When she was a student she was also active at WANALA UNAIR (nature’s lover student club). She admitted that her interest on wild animals occurred when she watched film on wildlife stories.

Dr. Yanti shared a story, when she was in the jungle to see the wildlife conditions, she was sad with the healthcare service provided for the wild animals. When they were sick with various causes, no one cares for them. In 2002, dr. Yanti started working as a volunteer in Animal Rescue Center (PPS) in Petungsewu, Malang.

“When I was in Malang, I handled almost all animals which almost extinct, from the west part to the eastern part of Indonesia, such as birds, reptiles, mammals (orangutans, gibbons, monkeys),” she said to UNAIR NEWS.

In 2004 she moved to Sumatera to start a career as a civil servant in Ministry of Forestry. Now, she is still working in the same field, wild animals’ conservation. But when she joined Ministry of Forestry she focused on handling big mammals such as orangutans, elephants, and tigers. Sometimes, dr. Yanti also handles tapirs and bears.

Tiger Rescue

From many efforts of wildlife rescue she has made, there were some memorable memories. She remembered well how she saved a Sumatran Tiger for the first time in 2007. She was impressed, that it was even the first ever done so far.

“For me, elephants and orangutan rescue always be interesting experiences. Some rescuing effort which I always remember was the rescue on a Sumatran Tiger for the first time in 2007,” said the woman from Nganjuk.

Erni Suyanti, dengan sampannya ia membawa harimau yang sudah dilumpuhkan untuk dibawa ke lokasi konservasi dan perawatan. (Foto: Repro Bambang Bes)
Erni Suyanti, on a sampan taking the neutralized tiger to the conservation and treatment location (Photo: Repro Bambang Bes)

The tiger was rescued alive . It was done with limited equipments because there was no facility support. Dr. Yanti only used a tranquilizer, without syringe.

“At that time we rescued the tiger with direct injection because of many people’s pressing,” said the doctor recalling her first tiger rescue which then named Putri. At that time, the tiger was trapped in a rubber plantation.

In 2011, dr. Yanti rescued another tiger from hunter’ trap in a production jungle in Air Rami, Mukomuko Regent, Bengkulu. The location which was quite far also memorable. At that time, she was trying to rescue an elephant when she was informed about a trapped tiger.

To get to the location, the doctor born on September 14, 1975 had to travel for three days. In the first day, she travelled by car and the rest had to walk.

What made me impressed was its distant location, but we  made it. We had to perform amputation in the jungle then followed with skin transplantation,” she said.

In 2014, she rescued another Sumatran Tiger. That time, she had to search the bushes. The tiger made it to unbind the trap but the leg was still entangled by barbed wire so it walked around and stayed in the bushes.

After rescuing dozens of tigers alive, the doctor faced difficult  situation. How did she get the fund for conservation? How was the feeding, drugs, and treatment managed? Often she had to meet the demand by herself by being a speaker in a seminar, presentation and fundraising from external parties.

Overcoming Fear

Has she ever felt fear during the wild animals rescues? She did not deny it. But as a vet, she had to understand the natural behavior of the animals which can threaten her life.

“Every animal has natural behavior. For example, a tiger attacks from behind. So if you encounter one, we should walked slowly back facing the tiger. So it’s necessary to understand their behaviors to avoid disturbing and threatening them,” said dr. Yanti.

The wild animals, said Erni Suyanti, actually choose to run when they encounter human. They threaten human lives when there is a conflict and the tiger is cornered unable to run from the surrounding peole. Animals also attack when there is disturbance such as when the cub is taken by the locals.

“Tigers have great instinct. If their cub is taken, the mother will search for the people who took the cub. Their sense of smell is very sharp,” said dr. Yanti.

On the other hand, wild animals can also provide protection for human. For example when dr. Yanti and her team were on patrol in the jungle with tamed elephants, when they encountered wild elephants, the tamed ones protected the crew.

Obviously, wild animals are not the only threats to the doctor and crews. There are two threats for them when they are on duty, hunters and locals which are in conflict with the animals. Therefore, often Dr. Yanti and her crews considered as ‘enemy’ to them.

Author : Defrina Sukma Satiti

Editor : Bambang Bes

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