February 25, 2009

Tiger Attacks Blamed On Deforestation

Conservation group WWF said on Wednesday that Indonesia must halt the destruction of forests in Sumatra after tigers in Jambi province killed six people in less than a month, Reuters reported.

Ian Kosasih, director of WWF's Forest Program, said in a statement: "As people encroach into tiger habitat, it's creating a crisis situation and further threatening this critically endangered subspecies."

WWF said villagers killed three young tigers this month in Riau province, also in Sumatra, apparently after they strayed into a village in search of food.

Didy Wurjanto, head of the Jambi nature conservation agency, said a tiger attacked and killed a man on Sunday while he was carrying logs near an illegal logging camp in eastern Sumatra.

Two other illegal loggers in the same area were mauled and killed on Saturday.

Wurjanto told Reuters that authorities had trapped a female tiger believed to be behind three killings earlier this month in the area, but the capture had not halted the latest killings.

WWF's Kosasih urged officials to make public safety a top concern and put a stop to illegal clearance of forests in Sumatra.

Officials at WWF said that in the past 22 years close to 30 million acres of Sumatran forest had been cleared, a loss of nearly 50 percent islandwide.

Sumatran tigers are one of the most critically endangered of the world's tiger subspecies.

Conservationists say the tiger's numbers have dropped to an estimated 400-500 or less on the Indonesian island from an estimated 1,000 in the 1970s, due to forest clearance often for palm oil or logging, killings due to human-tiger conflict, and illegal hunting for the trade in their parts.


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