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Sumatran tiger faces extinction due to wildlife trade

Sumatran tiger faces extinction due to wildlife trade

Sumatran tiger faces extinction due to wildlife trade
February 12, 2008

The critically endangered Sumatran Tiger faces extinction due to the tiger parts trade in Indonesia, reports a new report from TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network run by IUCN and WWF.

The watchdog reports that 23 tigers were killed to supply parts seen in retail outlets surveyed during 2006 in 28 cities and towns across Sumatra, an island in Indonesia.

“This is down from an estimate of 52 killed per year in 1999-2002,” said Julia Ng, program officer with TRAFFIC Southeast Asia and lead author on The Tiger Trade Revisited in Sumatra, Indonesia. “Sadly, the decline in availability appears to be due to the dwindling number of tigers left in the wild.”

Ten percent of surveyed shops offered tiger parts for sale. The report found that Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province, and Pancur Batu, a smaller town, are the main hubs for the tiger parts trade.

Law enforcement failing

The Tiger Trade Revisited in Sumatra, Indonesia [PDF]

The report said that law enforcement efforts in Sumatra have failed to rein in the trade.

“Because of poor enforcement the Sumatran tiger is slipping through our fingers/ There are only about 400 Sumatran tigers left and such a small population can’t sustain this level of poaching,” said Leigh Henry, program officer for TRAFFIC North America. “If enforcement and political will are not bolstered the Sumatran tiger will be wiped out just as the Javan and Bali tigers were.”

“We have to deal with the trade. Currently we are facing many other crucial problems which, unfortunately, are causing the decline of Sumatran tiger populations,” explained Dr. Tonny Soehartono, director for biodiversity conservation, Ministry of Forestry of Republic of Indonesia. “We have been struggling with the issues of land use changes, habitat fragmentation, human-tiger conflicts and poverty in Sumatra. Land use changes and habitat fragmentation are driving the tiger closer to humans and thus creating human-tiger conflicts.”

The report recommends stricter law enforcement by arresting dealers and suppliers, increasing monitoring of trade hotspots, and aggressively prosecuting traffickers both domestically and abroad.

“The Sumatran tiger is already listed as Critically Endangered on IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species, the highest category of threat before extinction in the wild,” said Jane Smart, head of IUCN’s Species Program. “We cannot afford to lose any more of these magnificent creatures.”

In a show of support for tiger conservation efforts, Indonesia launched the Conservation Strategy and Action Plan of Sumatran Tiger 2007-2017 during the U.N. Climate Change Convention in Bali in December 2007.

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