Extinction of Sumatran tiger

April 12, 2023, 4:03 p.m.

Indonesia’s last tiger. Sumatran tigers (Panthera tigris sumatrae) are on the brink of extinction. They are classified as Critically Endangered with less than 400 individuals estimated to live in the wild. They are the only tiger species now found in Indonesia after the Balinese and Javanese tigers were pushed to extinction in the 1900s.

The main threats to survival are: poaching, habitat destruction and the illegal wildlife trade.

As with so many species, massive habitat destruction has caused a dramatic decline in numbers of Sumatran tigers. The forests of Sumatra have been decimated to make way for oil palm plantations and other destructive monocultures as well as mining.

Another serious issue facing tigers are snares placed in the rainforest where tigers live. Often these rope or wire snares are set by villagers to catch wild pigs or deer to eat. However, tigers can become severely injured and maimed from these snares and die from infection.

Sumatran tigers are still hunted for their body parts including whiskers, teeth, bones, and claws for use in traditional Chinese medicines. Canine teeth and skins are also sold as ‘trophy’ items. The majority of tiger body parts are exported to China. Places that sell tiger body parts include souvenir, jewellery, antique and traditional Chinese medicine shops.

Fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers are estimated to remain in the wild. The Sumatran tiger is found only on the Indonesian island after which it is named.

What do you think should be done today to ensure the survival of a unique felid species?

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