Wild tiger flies back to nature
Hotli Simanjuntak , The Jakarta Post , Banda Aceh Mon, 12/22/2008 11:04 AM Headlines
After being in quarantine for more than a month in the backyard of the Aceh Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA), a wild Sumatran tiger captured in Jantho was finally released back to its habitat on Sunday.
The female tiger, believed to be 18 months old, was caught in a trap by the BKSDA following reports that it was terrorizing people living at the foot of the Bukit Barisan mountain range, some 40 kilometers southeast of Banda Aceh.
A helicopter was used to help release the tiger into Pucok Krueng Merah forest, Pidie Jaya, Aceh, the habitat of the renowned and rare Sumatran tiger.
The effort was jointly funded by a number of NGOs including Flora Fauna International, Leuser Ecosystem Foundation, Ekolestari Foundation, Vessweic and BKSDA Aceh with the help of the Iskandar Muda military air base.
"We allocated thousands of dollars for the release," Mike Griffiths of the Leuser Ecosystem Foundation said.
Griffiths said a number of wild animals, including tigers, had been driven out of their natural habitat because of illegal logging, including in the Pidie area, where the tiger is believed to have come from.
Illegal logging has increased since peace returned to Aceh after decades of war and insurgency, he said.
"During the conflict, no people dared go into the forest. Now, people return to forests, cut down trees and do farming," he said.
BKSDA Aceh has recorded a total of 10 incidents of tigers frightening people living near forests in seven regencies in the past two years.
BKSDA Aceh has trapped a number of wild tigers creating problems in villages near the forests. The agency is currently holding one wild tiger in quarantine.
Last June, the agency released five Sumatran tigers into the wild in Lampung because of the depletion of forests in Aceh.
Official estimates in 1992 put the population of Sumatran tigers at five national conservation forests in Sumatra at 400, of which 110 were in Leuser in Aceh. The number is believed to be much lower now.