Palembang, S Sumatra (ANTARA News) - The population of the Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) in the Sembilang Dangku landscape of South Sumatra is diminishing, as observers have estimated that only two big cats remain in the region.
"Six to eight tigers were detected in 2013, and now, only two remain, one male and one female," Senior Conservation Officer of Zoological Society of London Asep Adhikerana stated here on Wednesday.
The Zoological Society of London, an international scientific, conservation, and educational charity whose mission is to promote and achieve worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats, is partnering with the South Sumatra Administration to preserve and manage the Sembilang Dangku landscape.
The Sumatran forest fires in 2015 were believed to have had a huge impact on the Sumatran tigers habitat and population, Adhikerana noted.
Forests in the Sembilang Dangku landscape were damaged by the fires, along with activities, such as encroachment, illegal logging, and palm oil plantation exploration.
The other tigers might have migrated to Jambi in the north or might have been killed by poachers, Adhikerana remarked.
As long as there is food supply in the forest, such as deer or wild boars, tigers preferred preys, the big cat has no reason to leave the forest, he emphasized.
The palm oil plantations would not affect the survival of the tiger as long as there is still food supply, he stated.
However, there is always human activity around the plantation, and the smallest surviving tiger sub-species is afraid of and will avoid humans.
The population of Sumatran tigers will recover only if we restore their natural habitat and food supply, Adhikerana noted.
The local authority had installed as many as 20 camera traps to monitor the tigers in the Sembilang Dangku landscape.
However, some cameras were suspected to be stolen by poachers who wanted to gain information stored in them, Adhikerana remarked, adding that the government should take firm action against wildlife poachers.
The Sumatran tiger is a rare sub-species that inhabits the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
The big cat has been listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List, as its population is showing a declining trend.
The Sumatran tiger is the only surviving member of the Sunda Islands group of tigers that included the now extinct Bali tiger and Javan tiger.
Several studies have estimated that around 300-400 Sumatran tigers survive on the Sumatran Island.(*)