Stonyhurst students and tiger conservation

Olivia Walter with the Stonyhurst Environmental Society
Olivia Walter with the Stonyhurst Environmental Society

Members of the Environmental Society at Stonyhurst College have been learning about Sumatran tigers from someone who has encountered them at close range and is actively working to stop them being poached. Olivia Walter was the Society’s guest speaker last week, describing the huge threat that Sumatran tigers are under from poachers in Kerinci Seblat National Park in Sumatra.

Olivia is the Development Manager of Wildlife Vets International and last October she accompanied a group that walked across the National Park, picking up tiger snares as they went.

Tigers and Amur leopards have featured throughout Olivia’s career and she said she was surprised at how close her trip took her to the realities of poaching. “Little did I know that we would encounter most of the threats to Sumatra’s tigers up close,” she told Stonyhurst’s Environmental Society. “It was the most thought provoking time of my life … I learnt masses and, most importantly, we removed the terrible snares which are killing these tigers every day. The route was varied … along animal paths and through thick vegetation. It was hot and humid - we were soaked with sweat, sick and elated.”

Threats to the natural worldOlivia Walter and the WVI team in Sumatra

For many years, Olivia has supported tiger conservation in Sumatra; and Wildlife Vets International currently has a project training vets and field biologists in wildlife medicine, collecting good biomedical data and mitigation.

“Mrs Walter described the huge threat that Sumatran tigers are under from poachers,” said pupil Colm Fahy, “showing us the savage techniques used to catch them and explaining the socio-political culture that surrounds the poaching industry. The talk was most enjoyable and everyone in the Society was pleased to hear of the good work that Wildlife Vets International does across the world, combatting various threats to the natural world.”