Sumatran Tiger Killed; One Left In West Sumatra
January 19, 2009
The critically endangered wild Sumatran tigers received a major blow over the weekend after a tiger was killed in West Sumatra Province, bringing the total population of known tigers in the province to just one.
An official from the West Sumatra provincial wildlife conservation agency on Saturday reported that the animal was trapped and killed by locals after it was discovered roaming near a village.
“We will deploy 40 officers to protect the only remaining tiger by regularly patrolling [the area] to stop humans from endangering the animal or the other way around,” said the official, Indra Arinal.
He said the tiger was found ensnared in a trap originally designed to capture wild boars in a local forest.
Although no one has claimed responsibility, Indra suspected that the killing was motivated by revenge.
“Last year, at least three people were attacked by the tigers,” he said.
Indra said rampant deforestation to make way for cocoa and palm oil plantations had seen the tigers’ habitat shrink to only around 300 hectares of protected forest.
The situation has resulted in increased contact between humans and tigers.
“This creates conflict between man and tigers, as they enter the plantations in search of food or to cross to another forest,” Indra said.
He added that human activities caused the tigers to become more stressed and aggressive.
The total population of Sumatran tigers is thought to be less than 500, but the continuing loss of habitat, illegal trade and conflict with humans pose big threats to their survival.
The Ministry of Forestry says an average of 33 tigers are killed each year, though more killings go unrecorded.
The tigers are killed to be stuffed or for their fur.
The price of a preserved full-grown tiger starts at Rp 25 million ($2,250) on the black market, while furs are sold for between Rp 12 million and Rp 25 million.