Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Sumatra tiger's habitat reported to have drastically shrunk

August 21, 2006 16:51

Jakarta, Indonesia (ANTARA News) - The habitat of Sumatra tigers has drastically shrunk if compared to 20 years ago when two out of 20 landscapes of priority for tiger habitat in the world were found on Sumatra island.

A recent comprehensive report on the tigers' habitat launched in Washington DC recently said that most tigers in Sumatra were only living in a 40 percent shrunk area if compared to ten years ago.

At present tigers only occupied seven percent of historic range in Sumatra, a scientific report titled "Setting priorities for the conservation and recovery of the world`s tigers "2005-2015" said.

A research jointly conducted by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the Smithsonian`s National Zoological Park and Save The Tiger Fund (STF), the report called for international action to safeguard the population of tigers.

The research also showed that an effort to conserve and protect the tigers from hunters, to save species and their habitat will result in a stable population of the endanged animals.

However, the report concluded that success in the conservation of the tigers in the long term could only be reached through a conservation vision with a wide range of landscapes and the support of local government`s policy.

"We should continue attempting to save the tigers," Tiger Program Advisor of the Wildlife Conservation Society Hariyo T Wibisono said.

To that end, a strong commitment and active role of all parties including the community, local partners, the government and international financing institutes was badly needed.

In the meantime, Djoko Sumarjo of the West Sumatra Natural Resources Conservation office (BKSDA) said conflicts between people and tigers in West Sumatra`s forests over the last three months had claimed the lives of three persons and at least three tigers.

Due to human`s encroachment of West Sumatra forest area, which is the habitat of Sumatra tigers (panthera tigris sumatrae), there had been six conflicts involving local residents and the endangered animals since early this year, he said.

In January 2006, two local residents and one head of cattle were killed by a tiger in Simamonen Hilir forest, Pasaman District, Djoko said adding the man-eating tiger was later shot by a local forest officer.

In Kapur IX forest area, 50 Kota District, a farmer was pounced to death by a tiger in mid January 2006.

A tiger was caught by inhabitants of Padang Pariaman, and two others were poisoned to death, and certain parts of the tigers` body were stolen.

It was also reported that a three-meter-long tigress was caught in Bungus Teluk Kabung forest in the province`s capital city of Padang. She was later sent to Kerinci Seblat National Park (TNKS).

"In Salido forest, tigers are often spotted by local residents and have frightened people living around the forest area," Djoko said.

"According to the latest data, Sumatra Island has around 200 or 300 tigers, which are found in Aceh, West Sumatra, Jambi and Lampung. Their number is estimated to drop by up to 40 percent due to environmental destruction," Djoko explained.

Hunting of Sumatra tigers was rampant due to high demand for the endangered animals in the black market, chairman of the West Sumatra chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) Agus Teguh Prihartono said.

"Tigers are in high demand. Buyers are willing to pay tens of millions of rupiahs for their skin or other parts of their body. Therefore, hunting of Sumatra tiger is quite rampant," Agus said. (*)

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