Each Sumatran tiger consumes an average of 50 wild boars annually, the coordinator of biodiversity and conservation at the West Sumatra Natural Resource Conservation Board (BKSDA), Rusdiyan Aritonga, told a national seminar on tiger conservation at Andalas University here on Monday.
"If people keep hunting the wild boars, the Sumatran tigers will fearfully lose their food," he said.
In the long run, the tigers will migrate to other places and their population will shrink because many of them will die, he said.
The rising number of wild boar hunts may put the habitat of Sumatran tigers in the province on the line, he said.
The population of Sumatran tigers was estimated at 500 in 1994. And their numbers are believed to decline every year, he said.
According to the BKSDA, the habitat of Sumatran tigers in West Sumatra is 77 percent found in all over the province. "Only in Bukittinggi city, Padangpanjang city and Mentawai islands no signs of Sumatran tiger habitat are found," he said.
In those areas wild boar hunts are rife, he said.
The BKKSDA, along with other agencies engaged in the protection of Sumatran tigers has by thus far made every effort to protect the tigers by among others monitoring and translocating them and familiarizing the public with the need to conserve the endangered animal species.
Yet the public`s low awareness and limited funds pose an obstacle to the effort, he said.
"If this continues to happen, the Sumatran tigers will fearfully become extinct earlier than expected," he said.
Meanwhile, Adiyanto of the Wild Species Protection Institute said rampant wild boar hunts and illegal trade in tiger parts may accelerate the pace of Sumatran tiger extinction.
"Those involved in tiger hunts and illegal trade in tiger parts must be sentenced as severely as possible," he said.
(Reporting by Ikhwan Wahyudi, editing by Suharto)