Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Saving remaining Sumatran tigers

Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) ANTARA FOTO/Maulana Surya/foc/16.
Indonesia is one of the 13 countries in the world that have tigers living within their borders. 

India has the largest number of tigers, currently estimated to be be 2,226 in numbers, followed by Russia (433), Indonesia (371), Malaysia (250), Nepal (198), Thailand (189), Bangladesh (106) and Bhutan (103), according to data from the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

In Indonesia, Sumatran tigers (Pantera Tigris Sumatrae) are the only tigers surviving, as the country has already lost two sub-species of tigers to extinction, namely the Bali tiger which went extinct in 1937 and the Javan tiger in the 1970s.

Sumatran tigers, the smallest of all tigers, are currently a critically endangered species only found on Sumatra Island, Indonesias second largest island.

The tigers are on the brink of extinction because of deforestation, poaching and conflicts between the wild animals and local people as their habitats are shrinking.

The exact number of Sumatran tigers left in the wild is uncertain but latest estimates range from under 300 to possibly 500 in 27 locations, including in the Kerinci Seblat National Park, the Tesso Nilo Park and the Gunung Leuser National Park.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), their numbers have dwindled from about 1,000 in the 1970s. The biggest threat to conservation is conflict with humans, according to the 2009 report by the forestry ministry. On an average, five to 10 Sumatran tigers have been killed every year since 1998, the report said. 

To observe the Global Tigers Day on July 29, 2016, a public awareness campaign was organized by WWF Indonesia in Senayan City, Jakarta. 

Director of Communications and Advocacy of WWF Indonesia Nyoman Iswarayoga said only 371 Sumatran Tigers are left in the country.

"The number of Sumatran tigers from Aceh to Lampung region is now only 371, while worldwide, there are 3,871 such tigers," he stated.

He pointed out that the Sumatran Tiger remains an animal in high demand, making it vulnerable to poaching and illegal wildlife trade.

WWF Indonesia recorded 19 tiger deaths between 2010 and 2014 due to natural mortality, conflict with humans and poaching.

"If not protected, the Sumatran tiger will be extinct, and it is estimated that the world will lose this part of the history of the tiger population in the next five years," he underlined.

For that, WWF came up with the #DoubleTigers campaign, aimed at inviting the community to support the efforts to conserve Sumatran Tiger.

Conflict between the wild animals and human beings are rampant due to encroachment of the tigers habitats in Sumatra.

Recently, Sumatran Tigers were reportedly seen wandering around Kambang Timur Nagari, West Sumatra Province, recently.

The head of Area III Conservation Section of the Natural Resource Conservation Agency (BKSDA) of West Sumatra, Surajiya, said the agency found two sets of tiger tracks after receiving reports of tiger sightings from the villagers.

The first track was found near a mushala (small mosque), while the second one was found at farming field.

Kambang Timur Nagari Village Chief Sondri said the tigers were suspected to have mauled two dogs belonging to the villagers in the last one month.

They believed that at least four tigers are wandering around the village.

"In the course of one day, four residents reported having seen a tiger at almost the same time and we believe there were four tigers," Sondri said.

The authority has been working to track down the tigers to prevent any tiger-human conflict in the region.

Previously, in May, a Sumatran Tiger was rescued after it became entangled in a boar snare in Nagari Mandeh Village of West Sumatra.

The front right paw of the tiger was severely wounded by the snare and the team doctor had to amputate it on June 1.

The Sumatran tiger population has continued to decrease due to several factors.

In Jambi Province, for instance, the tiger population has declined due to deforestation, and also as a result of rampant poaching in the forest areas, as their habitats are being increasingly affected, Head of the Jambi Natural Resources Conservation (BKSDA), Syahimin, stated.

The population of Sumatran tigers, which have been included in the list of 25 endangered animal species, should be increased in line with the medium-term plan of the BKSDA, Syahimin noted.

"According to the plan, the number of tigers should be increased by at least three percent of the current population in the next five years. For instance, if the current population is one hundred tigers, the number should be increased by three," he explained.

The Sumatran tiger, commonly known as the king of the jungle, gives birth to two or three cubs every year.

"Not all cubs necessarily survive or even reach adulthood. Occasionally, natural selection comes into play, and some are also killed by humans," he pointed out.

In an effort to protect Sumatran tigers from various threats and to increase their population, the BKSDA has made efforts, such as monitoring the population in their habitats.

"We are monitoring all tigers on a regular basis. Moreover, patrols are being carried out to avoid poaching by rogue elements, who act irresponsibly," he explained.
Syahimin noted that the tiger population in Jambi was estimated to reach about 150. (Antara)

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