A female tiger and her cub were spotted in the Bukit Lengkung village, Bukit Batu, while two adult tigers were seen in the Temiang village, also in Bukit Batu, M. Jalal, the head of the Bengkalis disaster mitigation office (BPBD) noted here on Thursday.
"We know that the tigers must be scared due to the thick haze covering their habitat. We just avoided them and reported about the tigers to the Riau natural resource conservation office," he stated.
The forest area, which is located at the border of the Bengkalis district and Dumai city, is the habitat of Sumatran tigers. Around 3,629 hectares of forested area are currently on fire.
The felines traces were also found near a refugee camp in Barak Aceh, where 125 inhabitants of Tanjung Leban are seeking refuge due to the thick haze.
In the Medang Kampai subdistrict, 109 people were evacuated to safer places.
Since February 25, the Riau Governor has declared a state of emergency due to the haze as forest, plantation and peatland fires have spread to wider areas.
Of the provinces 12 districts/cities, seven of them have been worst-affected by the fires and haze, which include Bengkalis, Rokan Hilir, Indragiri Hulu, Indragiri Hilir, Siak, Pelalawan, Meranti, and Dumai city.
Fires have destroyed more than 1.5 thousand hectares of plantation area in the Siak district.
According to information posted on the WWF website, the Sumatran tiger, numbering fewer than 400 in the wild, is found exclusively on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, the last stronghold of the tigers in Indonesia.
Accelerating deforestation and rampant poaching across the Sumatran tigers range can have wide-ranging repercussions and unless the authorities enforce the law, this subspecies will soon follow the fate of its extinct Javan and Balinese relatives.
EDITED BY INE