Fauna and Flora International, an international wildlife conservation organization, has reported the arrest of two Sumatran poachers. One of them, a fifty-seven year old man, said he has killed 100 wild Sumatran tigers over the last thirty years.
The population of Sumatran tigers in the wild is estimated to be only three hundred to five hundred. Fauna and Flora noted the importance of these remaining animals: “As a critically endangered species loss of even one of these animals can impact on the survival of the species.” The Sumatran tiger is the only subspecies left in the Indonesian islands. The last Bali tiger is believed to have been shot in 1937. The last Javan was probably killed in 1984.
Left unchecked, one man’s damage could have played a critical role in wiping out a whole species. His destructiveness wasn’t limted to his own actions though. He also involved his son in the illegal practice of wild tiger poaching. Both of them were caught in the recent arrest. Hopefully the penalties they incur will stop them from ever killing tigers again. It was not reported if there are grandsons of the fifty-seven year old, but if there are I sincerely hope they were not taught the same illegal activities.
Tiger habitat in Sumatra is being lost to agriculture, as more forest is being converted to palm oil production. Gunung Leuser National Park is where the largest population of 110 lives, but much tiger habitat there is still unprotected. Its hard to say even with potentially five hundred tigers left in the wild if that is enough genetic diversity to sustain a wild population. Inbreeding could eventually weaken the species to the point where it is very vulnerable to disease.
Some zoos are currently involved in the efforts to save the species from extinction. The Melbourne Zoo just reported May 13th, they have four healthy new Sumatran tiger cubs. (If you visit their page, watch the video too.) Another hopeful event was the capturing of extremely rare footage of Sumatrans in the wild this year.
Visit the Sumatran Tiger Trust website to find out what you can do help.
Image Credit: Brimac the 2nd