"The population of the Sumatran tiger in South Sumatra is decreasing because of hunting and land conversion, which shifts tigers habitats," the head of the Natural Resources Conservation Agency of South Sumatra, Nunu Anugrah, said here on Monday.
The Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is one of the six subspecies of the animal that survive today. Its natural habitat is the island of Sumatra.
This tiger is included in the red list of critically endangered animals that was released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The population of the wild Sumatran tiger is estimated to be some 400 to 500. They mostly live in Sumatras national parks.
Moreover, the unique genetic characteristics revealed in a recent test suggest that this subspecies may evolve into a separate species if managed sustainably.
Furthermore, the destruction of habitat is the most serious threat to tigers today. Between 1998 and 2000, as many as 66 Sumatran tigers were reported to have been killed in the national parks.
According to Anugrah, there are some locations in Sumatra in the provinces of Lampung and Aceh, among others, which continue to serve as a habitat for the Sumatran tiger.
"The Natural Conservation Board has already decided on permanent pilot areas to increase the population of the Sumatran tiger," he affirmed.
These include the forests of Jambi, Kerinci Sebalat, Mount Leuser in Aceh, Bengkulu, the Sembilang National Park, and the Dangku Musi Banyuasin Wildlife Sanctuary in South Sumatra, he stated, adding that these pilot areas will be permanent centers where the population of the tiger will be raised.
"On surveillance cameras at some points in Dangku Wildlife Sanctuary, six to eight Sumatran tigers were spotted," he pointed out.
Anugrah further noted that the Sumatran tiger is among animals that mate and reproduce easily.
However, with their natural habitats increasingly threatened by poaching and land conversion, it has become difficult for this species to find a mate and reproduce.
"In some protected areas such as Sembilang National Park, the tigers are well conserved," he added.(*)