Sumatran Tiger

Sumatra Island, Indonesia

Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Clade: Synapsida
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Felidae
  • Genus: Panthera
  • Species: P. Tigris
  • Subspecies: P. T. Sumatrae

Indonesia has already lost two sub-species of beautiful tigers to extinction, the Bali Tiger and the Javan Tiger. There are less than 500 Sumatran Tigers in Indonesia, the species may be the next tiger to face extinction. The last surviving Sumatran Tigers are living in their dying days, listed as critically endangered, this Indonesian tiger is in desperate need of help.

The Sumatran Tiger is distinguished by bold black stripes against their orange fur, they are the smallest tiger subspecies weighing up to 308lbs as adults. Inhabiting the tropical, broadleaf forests, they are an essential role in the maintenance of the forest’s biodiversity.

In the late 70s, experts estimated the population of Sumatran tigers at 1,000, however, due to accelerating deforestation and illegal poaching the numbers of Sumatran tigers have decreased rapidly in large numbers over the years. Human activities such as farming, hunting, and gathering natural products from the forest, have also caused the population of Sumatran tigers to plummet.

Sumatra’s deforestation is out of control, the country previously lost 36 percent of its natural forest covers between 1990 and 2010 due to Palm oil plantations. The loss of natural habitats has forced the Tigers to move into villages in search of food and water. As a result of the tigers moving out of their natural habitat, humans have been wounded and killed, and livestock have fallen prey to tigers. As a result of retaliatory actions, human-wildlife conflict has become a serious problem in Sumatra.

Most tigers in Sumatra are killed for commercial gain, unfortunately, illegal trade of exotic animals continues to operate as a lucrative business. Tiger cubs are being sold for £67,000 a pair as pets in Indonesia (as of 2010). There is a continuous demand for the Sumatran’s tiger bones and skin products, which are regarded as medicinal ingredients in many parts of Indonesia and the rest of Asia. According to a survey from TRAFFIC, the global wildlife trade monitoring network; poaching for trade is responsible for at least 40 Sumatran tiger deaths per year.

Today, there are sanctuaries that are trying to save the beautiful Sumatran tigers from extinction. In Indonesia, anyone caught hunting tigers could face jail time and extreme fines. But it is imperative that the government strengthens its wildlife protection policies and law enforcement in order to save this magnificent cat from disappearing in the wild.

Estimated Sumatran Tiger population figures between 1970 and 2020

The graph above represents the Sumatran Tiger population between 1970 and 2020, it is evident to see that there has been a significant loss from around 1,200 Sumatran Tigers in 1970 to just 470 Sumatran Tigers today.

This indicates that more than 50% of the population has diminished over a period of just 46 years, and if the current population trend continues the Sumatran Tiger population will dangerously decline further.

Estimated deforestation rates in Sumatra between 2006 and 2016

The graph above is a representation over the concerning growth of deforestation in Sumatra. Sumatra’s deforestation has seen the a huge loss in a number of species including the Sumatran Tiger, which have been driven out of their natural habitats, and even killed as a result.

In 2006, Sumatra’s annual deforestation rate stood at 515 million hectares, this figure has since grown rapidly to 1,550 million hectares today. If current deforestation trends continue in Sumatra, consequently more Sumatran Tigers could be killed as well as other species in the area.

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