Welcome to our article highlighting facts, images and videos of the critically endangered Sumatran Tiger
The Critically Endangered Sumatran Tiger
The Sumatran tiger is the smallest tiger subspecies in the world. As its name suggests, it inhabits the Indonesia’s Sumatra Island. Due to high deforestation and high poaching on the island, their numbers have dropped to a paltry 400, making them critically endangered.
Poachers are the biggest threat to the Sumatran tigers, aided by the shrinking habitat which makes them easier to find. Once upon a time, Indonesia was blessed with thousands of tigers but now two subspecies have already become extinct: the Javan and Balinese tigers.
Sumatran Tiger Appearance
The Sumatran tiger is very similar to the typical tiger in appearance; their bodies are covered by an orange coat with black stripes above and white ones on the underside. However, they are smaller than other subspecies and they spot a distinctive, prominent ruff of fur on their necks. The male Sumatran tigers weigh about 100-140 kg and the females 100-120 kg. The adults rarely grow to more than 2.5 m in length.
Sumatran Tiger Habitat
The Sumatran tigers are only found in Sumatra, inhabiting a wide range of habitats including lowland forests, peat swamp forests and mountainous forests. Their small size enables them to navigate dense jungle much easily compared to their bigger cousins. Their paws are slightly webbed which helps to make them great swimmers. This is a major advantage since Sumatra has a lot of water and swimming after prey is often a necessity. They mainly hunt at night, stealthily searching for wild boar, dear, tapir and smaller animals such as monkeys, birds and fish.
Threats to the Sumatran Tiger
The loss of habitat is a major threat to the survival of the Sumatran tiger. Acacia and oil plantations have been encroaching on its habitat, with deforestation being done on an appalling scale so as to make way for planting of these commercial trees. Various reports estimate that 30 million acres of Sumatran have been cleared in the last 23 years. Since tigers need vast, contiguous forests to thrive, deforestation could lead to an even greater decline in numbers.
In the Kerinci Seblat National Park which is known to have the biggest population of tigers, deforestation is taking place on its fringes as the demand for natural resources continuous to soar because the population around the area has one of the highest growth rates in Indonesia.
But the biggest threat these tigers face is poaching, with statistics showing that about 40 of them are hunted down every year. Illegal trade in tiger parts is at an all time high in Indonesia and the larger Asian continent. And there simply aren’t enough patrols and wardens to find all the tiger traps and the culprits who set them.
Sumatran Tiger Conservation Efforts
Efforts to save the Sumatran tiger are being scaled up, with the government introducing steep fines and jail time for anyone caught hunting tigers. Law enforcement has been strengthened to curb trade in tiger parts, and anti-poaching patrols are better trained and equipped.
Tiger Protection Units have also been formed to educate communities and develop solutions to human-tiger conflicts. Since these tigers have a relatively fast reproductive rate, there is hope that strong conservation efforts can save the Sumatran tiger from extinction.