Indonesia has a new plan to save the Critically Endangered Sumatran tiger, reports the AFP: sell captive-born tigers as pets. The proposed price is 100,000 US dollars for a pair of Sumatran tigers with the money going to conservation efforts, though it was unclear who would manage these funds.
“We’re not selling or renting tigers. We’re only authorizing people to look after them,” forestry ministry conservation chief Darori told AFP. “These people will have to follow certain conditions. The tigers will still belong to the government.”
Officials would require that the ‘pet’-owners would have to have at least 60 square meters (646 square feet) to contain the two animals. Government officials would monitor the animals’ health and punish owners for mistreatment. The AFP reports that the idea was first raised by wealthy businessmen who want to possess tigers for the ‘prestige’ it gives them.
Sumatran tiger. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.
However, environmentalists are skeptical. They say that instead of selling tigers as pets, the government should be focusing on conserving the dwindling tiger habitat on Sumatra. Deforestation for logging and oil palm plantations has devastated tiger habitat on the island. In addition, conservationists warn that selling captive tigers to private individuals is likely to only fuel the black-market trade in tiger parts, which has devastated tigers across their range.
Tigers are the world’s largest cat; they are also the most dangerous. Even as pets they are extremely unpredictable. Long-trained tigers still attack. Working with tigers for years did not prevent Roy Horn, of the magic act Siegfried and Roy, from being nearly killed by one on-stage.
The Sumatran tiger, a subspecies of the tiger, is classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List. Wild Sumatran tigers have attacked and killed a number of people in recent years as rampant deforestation in Indonesia has brought the remaining great cats, estimated at 200 animals, into closer contact with Indonesians.
(08/25/2009) 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.
(03/18/2009) The Sumatran tiger, a critically-endangered subspecies, is hanging on by a thread in its island home. Biologists estimate that at most 500 individuals remain with some estimates dropping as low as 250. Despite the animal’s vulnerability, large-scale deforestation continues in its habitat mostly under the auspices of one of the world’s largest paper companies, Asian Pulp and Paper (APP). Shrinking habitat and human encroachment has led to a rise in tragic tiger encounters, causing both human and feline mortalities.
(03/03/2009) Two more illegal loggers were attacked and killed Sunday night in Sungai Gelam district in Jambi Province on the island of Sumatra, reports the Jakarta Post. The deaths bring the total number of people killed by tigers in the province since January 24th to nine.
(02/27/2009) WWF has attributed six recent killings of villagers by tigers to deforestation in Sumatra. Habitat loss — together with prey depletion by hunting — is believed to be driving tiger-human conflict on the Indonesia island.
(09/02/2008) A raid on illegal tiger traders in Indonesia resulted in four arrests in Sumatra, reports the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The arrests come under a new crack-down by Indonesian authorities on the sales of tiger parts. 10 traffickers have been arrested in the past 3 months.
(07/02/2008) A new survey shows that most Chinese would rather have tigers living in the wild than tiger products on their dinner plates. However the poll also revealed some notable contradictions in attitudes toward the trade in tiger parts.
(02/12/2008) 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.
(08/29/2007) Over 100 wildlife experts and government officials will meet in Indonesia Wednesday to draft an action plan to save Sumatran elephnts and tigers from extinction, reports Reuters.
(07/06/2007) A WWF camera trap has captured photos of a three-legged Sumatran tiger on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. WWF says the rare tiger likely escaped from a snare. The big cat seems otherwise healthy.
(06/05/2007) Trade in tiger products must be banned if tigers are to survive in the wild, reports a study published in Bioscience. The paper, The Fate of Wild Tigers, characterizes the decline in wild tiger population as ,catastrophic, and urges governments to outlaw all trade in tiger products from wild and captive-bred sources as well as step up conservation efforts.