Logging, Poaching Threatens Sumatra Tiger’s Future
December 30, 2008
News / National / Article
Fidelis E. Satriastanti
Deforestation and illegal poaching are threatening to wipe out the few remaining Sumatran tigers in the Kerinci Seblat National Park, an activist said on Monday.
Yoan Dinata, from Flora and Fauna International, a non-governmental organization that is monitoring Sumatran tigers in the national park, said that loss of habitat and the animal’s natural prey was a major threat to the species’ future.
Dinata said that an estimated that 85.6 square kilometers of forest was lost annually from 2002 to 2004 in the national park, severely reducing the animal’s natural environment.
Dinata said that deforestation had also forced the tigers to encroach on land owned by villagers and that poachers themselves had been attacked.
“[Deforestation] is also giving rise to more conflict between the tigers and humans because some parts of the national park are located near villages,” he said.
Diana added that the 1.4-million-hectare park was capable of supporting a far larger population than the estimated 136 remaining and that the animal’s future was therefore uncertain.
“The Sumatran tiger is facing extinction because the numbers are not proportional to the large area of the park,” Dinata said.
The national park straddles four major provinces — West Sumatra, Jambi, Bengkulu and South Sumatra — and borders nine districts, 43 subdistricts and 134 villages.
It is a home not only to the Sumatran tiger but also the rare Sumatran rhino, the Sumatran elephant and Rafflesia arnoldii, which can attain a diameter of one meter and can weigh 11 kilograms, making it the world’s largest flower.
FFI has been monitoring the species since 2004 by looking for droppings and tracks and by using camera traps, Dinata said.
However, he said that the absence of accurate data prior to 2004 made it difficult to estimate the species’ annual rate of decline.
“But every year around three to five tigers have been killed for the illegal market from the park,” he said.
The Sumatran tiger was classified as endangered in 1996 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
There are estimated to be between 400 to 500 of such tigers left on Sumatra island.
The Sumatran tiger is the smallest of all existing tiger subspecies. Male Sumatran tigers average 234 centimeters in length and weigh about 136 kilograms.