October 13, 2010

Rare Tiger Roams Sumatra As Trees Get Cleared

Infrared footage has shown a rare tiger roaming in protected forests on Indonesia's Sumatra island, which conservationists claim to have been illegally cleared.

Environmental group WWF released the video in May and June.  The group has been monitoring Sumatran tigers since last year in a wildlife preserve near Bukit Tigapuluh national park in Riau province.

A male Sumatran tiger was seen walking towards a camera and sniffing it in one clip.

WWF spokeswoman Desmarita Murni told AFP that a week later, a bulldozer was seen flattening land at the same spot, believed to be making way for roads to new palm-oil plantations.

"There were strong indications of illegal land-clearing activities and this must be investigated. The video showed concrete evidence that there were threats to tigers in this area," she added.

The WWF said it reported the land clearing in the Bukit Batabuh area to the authorities and "the operations have since stopped."

"But we don't know when they will come back, so we're urging for monitoring to be intensified in the area," Murni told AFP.

Human-animal conflicts are becoming a bigger problem as people trespass on wildlife habitats in Indonesia, an archipelago with some of the world's largest remaining tropical forests.

WWF said there are as few as 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild in Indonesia.


Image Caption: Female tiger captured by camera trap in Rimbang Baling-Bukit Tigapuluh Corridor, Riau, Indonesia. © WWF-Indonesia / Tiger Survey Team


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