Tiger brutally killed in zoo, body parts taken to sell for Chinese medicine

Jeremy Hance
August 25, 2009

Poachers broke into the Jambi Zoo on Saturday morning in Indonesia. Using meat they drugged a female Sumatran tiger named Sheila and then skinned her in the cage. They left behind very little of the great cat: just her intestines and a few ribs. Authorities suspect that the tiger's body parts will be sold in the thriving black market for Chinese medicines where bones are used as pain killers and aphrodisiacs.

Sheila, the only Sumatran tiger at Jambi Zoo, was apart of a conservation program run by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) to save the Sumatran tiger, a subspecies which is Critically-Endangered. Sheila was also a centerpiece for Jambi zoo to teach visitors about conservation.

Sumatran tiger in captivity. Photo by: Monika Betley.
"This tragic incident highlights the need for improved law enforcement at a local level. It is shocking that this tiger, who has contributed to tiger conservation via her role in training young Indonesian wildlife biologists and vets, should fuel the trade in wildlife parts which threatens her kind with extinction," tiger conservation manager for ZSL, Sarah Christie, said.

Authorities also believe the poachers will sell the tigers’ skin and probably even collected its blood in bags to be sold.

"I just can’t bear the thought that this could be a new trend in the illegal wildlife trade, [that poachers] are now going after tame tigers in zoos rather than in forests," Didy Wurdjanto, the head of the Jambi Natural Resources Conservation Center, told the Jakarta Post. "The demand for tigers is increasing and the price is getting higher because there are so few left."

A thorough investigation of the crime is planned. It is estimated that there are fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild. They are threatened by rampant deforestation and poaching. Last spring there were several incidents of Sumatran tigers attacking illegal loggers.

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Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (August 25, 2009).

Tiger brutally killed in zoo, body parts taken to sell for Chinese medicine.