Indonesia’s Sumatran Tigers on Brink of Extinction


Indonesia is set to lose its last remaining tiger species—the Sumatran tiger—if the widespread illegal trade in tiger parts and rampant habitat loss is not stopped, according to a joint report issued by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC.

The report reveals that at least 50 Sumatran tigers were poached per year between 1998 and 2002. The latest available figures show that there are between 400 and 500 tigers left in the wild in Sumatra.

“Increased and improved enforcement is critical to saving Sumatran tigers,” says Steven Broad, executive director of TRAFFIC. “As a first step, action should be taken against the markets, trade hubs and retail outlets highlighted in the report, especially in northern Sumatra. More specialized anti-poaching units also need to be urgently established.”

Loss of habitat is also a major threat to the Sumatran tiger. WWF is calling for a moratorium on clearing Sumatra’s lowland forests—prime tiger territory—by APP and APRIL, two of the world’s biggest paper companies. The clearing of habitat has resulted in the tigers roaming into local villages, where they are sometimes captured or killed.

With only a few hundred Sumatran tigers remaining, WWF fears they will suffer the same fate as two other Indonesian tiger subspecies, the Bali and Javan tigers, which became extinct in the 1940s and 1980s respectively.