Your letters: The Sumatran tiger crisis
Paper Edition | Page: 8
With just shy of 600 Sumatran tigers left in the world, they are a species on the critically endangered list that face more threats than any other tiger species. They face conflict with humans as the demand for their skin and other parts rises and their habitat is being cut down at its highest rate.
Sumatran tigers require large amounts of forest cover for their territory since they are not social animals. As Sumatra provides 87 percent of the palm oil produced in Indonesia the deforestation caused by the expansion of plantations causes a threat to their habitat and challenges their survival.
Sumatra lost nearly 13 million hectares of forest between 1985 and 2009 due to its conversion to agriculture and commercial plantations, as well as the encroachment of unsustainable logging operations and road construction. In 2008, the island had 12.8 million hectares of forest remaining that only covered 29 percent of the land area, and this is where 87 percent of the total population of Sumatran tigers is found.
As deforestation rapidly increases, tigers are coming in contact with humans more often than ever. In a mere decade, there were 235 cases of human/tiger conflict, with at least 36 Sumatran tigers killed or injured. This is the highest recorded rate ever.
That said, human/tiger conflict might not be the largest issue facing this species but illegal poaching is a serious issue. TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, declares poaching for trade is responsible for 78 percent of Sumatran tiger deaths, with the death toll at 40 tigers or more a year. These tigers are hunted for their skin, which is used for carpets and decoration, while their body parts, such as their claws, are used for jewelry and their bones for traditional medicine, which is in much
demand in China.
At this moment, saving Sumatran tigers should be one of Indonesia’s top priorities. Mila, a Sumatran tiger program coordinator from World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), says “If no action is taken to save the Sumatran tigers, they will become extinct in the wild by 2017”.
WWF and many other organizations are doing their best to save this animal from threat. Their strategies involve securing funds, lobbing for political action and protecting tiger habitat.
WWF and other organizations are doing their part, but what about us?
As individuals we have to do our part to save the remaining Sumatran tigers. Donating to NGO’s is valuable so that they can prepare for emergencies. We should steer clear of buying tiger products and rather support forest friendly products so that we can keep the tigers and their habitat safe from threats. The most effective solution would be to spread the word, so that everyone is aware of the situation and can take action as well.
Indonesia has already lost two other species of tiger, so we cannot afford to lose Sumatran tigers too. Losing Sumatran tigers will not only have negative consequences on Indonesia but will have a knock on affect for the entire ecosystem as they are the top predators in their food chain.
If we lose Sumatran tigers it would cause an ecological crisis. Taking action for Sumatran tigers at this point is essential. If we fail to protect them then they will be lost forever.
Student from Gandhi Memorial International School