Tiger Death Sees Calls for Action on Zoos
August 25, 2009
Fidelis E. Satriastanti
Environmentalist urged the government on Tuesday to tackle wildlife crime after a female Sumatran tiger was slaughtered in a zoo in Jambi last weekend.
Sheila, the only Sumatran tiger remaining at the Taman Rimbo Zoo, was killed and skinned on zoo grounds after being drugged by poachers early on Saturday, leaving virtually nothing behind except the innards and a few ribs of the animal, which is critically endangered in the wild.
Authorities suspect the killers entered the zoo by climbing through a gutter running past its lightly guarded main gate to the tiger enclosure located just 10 meters from the main road.
They are then thought to have climbed onto the roof of the enclosure, from where they threw in a poisoned bait.
“The skinned and stolen tiger from the Jambi zoo is just another incident in a long list of the wildlife crimes in zoos. We are strongly against such crimes, especially when they happen in zoos,” said Radius Nursidi, a campaign officer for ProFauna, a wildlife protection organization.
Nursidi said the government needed to have a moratorium on issuing permits for any new Indonesian zoo or safari park, and instead focus on assisting and monitoring the present facilities.
“It seems that there are no ‘safe places’ for the endangered Sumatran tigers. In the wild, tigers are still being hunted for illegal wildlife trade and now tigers in zoos are threatened by well-organized criminals,” he said, adding that the latest incident in Jambi showed a lack of security by the zoo’s authorities.
Data from ProFauna Indonesia shows that two other tigers have died suspiciously in zoos over the past four months. One of them, a male tiger also belonging to the Taman Rimbo Zoo, died last February but its remains were never verified by the public. The second tiger, a female, died in a Surabaya zoo in July.
Profauna recently managed to help law enforcement officers to expose four people involved in the wildlife trade. They are alleged to have close connections with employees from various zoos in Jakarta and Surabaya.
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