Endangered Sumatran tiger caught on camera
A rare species of tiger hovering on the brink of extinction has been photographed by a camera trap during a survey of an area of rainforest in Lampung Province, Sumatra. The survey team from IAR is made up of local Indonesians and Spanish researchers.
The angle of the photo makes it impossible to determine whether the Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is male or female. However it is conclusive evidence that one of these highly endangered big cats is alive and well and living in a forest Reserve in Lampung Sumatra – the last stronghold for tigers in Indonesia. It is estimated that there are now fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers surviving in the wild. Accelerating deforestation and rampant poaching across the tiger's range mean that unless authorities enforce the law, the Sumatran tiger will soon be extinct like its Javan and Balinese relatives.
In March this year International Animal Rescue was one of several NGOs to support a police raid on an animal market in Jakarta which led to the arrest of four traders dealing in tiger skins and body parts. The team also recovered 61 items of tiger skins, a tiger skull, a stuffed leopard, a piece of leopard head skin, five pieces of bear skin and some other body parts of protected animals.
In 2008 the NGO ProFauna surveyed the trade in elephant and tiger parts in Indonesia. It showed that among 21 big cities in Indonesia, ten cities or 48% were locations where the illegal trade was taking place.
IAR Chief Executive Alan Knight OBE said: "Illegal trade in Indonesia is decimating its rich and rare wildlife – and none more so than the tiger. The photograph is exciting evidence that these animals are living in the area of our survey and it is vital that they are given every protection against the ruthless greed of poachers and wildlife smugglers."
Under the 1990 Indonesian Wildlife Act, the trade in protected animals like the Sumatran tiger is strictly prohibited. Offenders will receive a jail sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to IDR 100 million (US$ 11,000).
The biodiversity survey in Sumatra is being conducted with financial support from the Spanish International Cooperation Agency (AECID) from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Spanish Government and supervised by Ekopass (Spanish NGO). Its aim is to find out more about the rich biodiversity of an area of forest that could make a viable release site for primates that have been rescued and rehabilitated by International Animal Rescue’s team and are ready to be returned to the wild. The area is also of critical importance to local communities as it is a water catchment area for the Batutegi dam.
For further information contact Lis Key, International Animal Rescue, on 07957 824379.
Tigers were also once widespread on Bali and Java; however these two subspecies were exterminated in the 20th century. The last observation in Bali dates back to the late 1930s, and the Javan tiger was recorded for the last time during a survey in 1976. There have been no confirmed records since.