Too much goat and ice cream our last day in Krui, something didnt sit well. I had a fever and couldnt hold down any food or water for our whole night passage to the Tambling Wildlife Nature Conservation. We arrived around 7am the next day and I considered not even going ashore, but finally decided to give it a shot.
We were greeted at the dock by two Indonesians who spoke passable English and offered to show us around. First they offered us a meal in their staff dining room and apologized for not having prepared special food for us, but of course they had no idea we were coming. Everyone else ate but I was still in no condition. The whole place was immaculate and a lot of money was obviously being spent on upkeep. They showed us a video and we learned that the whole preserve is private and financed, with cooperation from the government, by a rich Indonesian businessman. They house rescue Sumatran tigers that are either injured by poachers or suspected man-killers. One of the things that makes the preserve unique is that they do not tame or train the tigers, the goal is always to let the tigers back in to the wild. The place staffs 200 people which includes conservationists, armed patrols to hunt poachers, farmers, and others. They grow most of their own food onsite.
We spent the rest of the afternoon touring the preserve by SUV and boat, but could only cover a small portion of the 45,000 hectares. Finally, at the end, we went to the tiger rescue center.
There were 8 tigers there in total, each in its own cage. 2 had been born there in the preserve, the other 6 were there because they were suspected of killing and eating humans. These were not zoo tigers. They were intentionally kept wild and when you approached their cage they would crouch, growl, and sometimes even charge at you through the bars. The growing they made was amazingly loud and guttural and would make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. When they charged, even though they were in a cage, you couldnt help but jump back. They were beautiful, awe inspiring, and terrifying.
We were also lucky enough to see feeding time, something that only happens every 3 days. 4 pigs were cut in half and each tiger was given half a pig. What large teeth they have.
We concluded the tour with some fresh coconuts and they even offered to let us stay in one of their lodges (an offer I took them up on, my first night on land on over a month). We tried to offer them a tip or even make a donation to the preserve but they wouldnt accept either. Thanks William and Bobby!