New Hope For Critically Endangered Sumatran Tiger

Last sub-species of tiger left in Indonesia

November 2011: A new study has provided a rare glimmer of hope for the Sumatran tiger, the last subspecies of tiger still in existence in Indonesia.

MIXED FORTUNES: More than 70 per cent of
Sumatra’s forest patches are home to tigers, but some areas are still threatened by deforestation.

Reports that tiger populations are declining in many parts of its range paint a bleak and all too familiar picture. Of the 13 tiger-range countries recognised today, the Indonesian archipelago has already lost two distinct subspecies from the islands of Bali and Java.

Reliably determining where tigers are present within dense tropical jungle is challenging because their secretive behaviour and excellent camouflage naturally make them difficult to detect. But, for the past three years, eight NGOs have joined forces to carry out the first ever Sumatra-wide survey, in collaboration with the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry.

More than 70 per cent of forest areas are home to tigers Hariyo Wibisono of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and chairman of the Sumatran Tiger Forum, who led the project, said: ‘This survey is a milestone for Sumatran tigers. The results provide the most up-to-date and reliable information ever collected for this critically endangered species.’

The comprehensive study found that while more than 70 per cent of forest patches surveyed were occupied by tigers, its status varied greatly between the different landscapes.

Speaking about the newly created 3.3 million hectare Leuser-Ulu Masen landscape in Aceh Province, co-author Dr Matthew Linkie from Fauna & Flora International explained: ‘This study puts Aceh’s previously unsurveyed forest firmly on the map as a global priority for wild tigers in Asia.’

Tigers can be resilient under the right conditions Another positive finding was the wide distribution of tigers found in the second largest landscape: the 1.6 million hectare Kerinci Seblat-Batang Hari. The size of the area, combined with a decade of Tiger Protection and Conservation Unit forest patrols there, have shown how resilient tigers can be under the right conditions.

In some areas however, the impact of deforestation was obvious, with tigers largely missing from severely degraded forest patches. Dr Sunarto, who led the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) team in Riau province, warned of the perilous situation facing Sumatran tigers: ‘Over the past 25 years, Riau has lost 65 per cent of its natural forest, so it’s unsurprising that tigers are badly affected here. However, they are still roaming and breeding in some places, so we’re increasing our conservation efforts in these areas and trying to restore forest corridors between tiger subpopulations.’

Looking to the future, Dr Joseph Smith of Panthera explained: ‘The survey results provide an excellent benchmark against which to measure how future conservation efforts benefit tigers on the ground.’

Photo: Sumatara Tiger ( Wikipedia)

File:Sumatran Tiger Berlin Tierpark.jpg


~ by narhvalur on November 18, 2011.

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