DEFORESTATION LEAVES SUMATRAN TIGERS DANGEROUSLY CLOSE TO EXTINCTION
Sumatran tigers are increasingly under threat due to their habitat being eaten away by deforestation, a year-long study by researchers at the University of California has found.
Though overall numbers of the tigers have gradually improved over the last two decades, the jungle in which they live is experiencing increasing threat from deforestation. It appears that 17 per cent of the tigers’ environment was logged between 2000 and 2012, mostly to make way for palm oil plantations. Moreover, the team found that tiger numbers are 50 per cent higher in areas of unlogged forest, making preservation of the jungle a high priority if Sumatran tigers are to be saved from suffering the same fate as tigers on the neighbouring islands of Java, Bali and Singapore, which all went extinct during the 20th Century.
The researchers spent a year trekking through remote Sumatran forests, mounting hundreds of camera traps to video the animals whenever they passed. They found that a Sumatran tiger’s home range is roughly 150 square miles, around the same size as the Isle of Wight – much larger than that of other tigers. The team discovered that there are only two habitats large enough to host more than 30 breeding females, the minimum number required to sustain populations over the long term.
“Safeguarding the remaining expanses of primary forests is now absolutely critical to ensuring tigers can persist indefinitely on Sumatra,” said researcher Dr Mathias Tobler. “Large-scale reforestation is unlikely. If we are going to save Sumatran tigers in the wild, the time to act is now.”
ABOVE: Individual Sumatran tigers
are identified by their unique pattern of stripes