Threats to Sumatran tigers
Large-scale habitat lossHabitat for the Sumatran tiger has been drastically reduced by logging, clearing for agriculture and plantations, and settlement.
Indonesian forestry officials acknowledge that in many parts of the island, illegal timber harvesting and forest conversion are out of control.
Approximately 67,000 km² of forest was lost in Sumatra from 1985 to 1997, most of this being lowland rainforest. Moreover, the annual rate of forest loss has been increasing across Indonesia.
Today, around 130,000km² of tiger habitat remains on Sumatra, with just 42,000km² of this protected as some form of conservation area.
Even protected areas face problems. National parks have been isolated from one another through logging and forest conversion, and as a result there is little to no interchange and gene flow between the separated tiger populations.
Coming into conflict with peopleHabitat destruction not only reduces tiger numbers, but also prey. As a result, tigers move into settled areas in search of food, where they are more likely to come into conflict with people.
Indeed, human-tiger conflict is a serious problem in Sumatra compared to other parts of the tiger's global range. People have been killed or wounded, and livestock fall prey to tigers. Retaliatory action by villagers can result in the killing of the tiger.
Hunted for skins and bonesAlthough the numbers of tigers incidentally killed or as a result of human-tiger conflict are significant, most tigers in Sumatra are apparently killed deliberately for commercial gain.
According to a TRAFFIC survey, poaching for trade is responsible for over 78% of estimated Sumatran tiger deaths, consisting of at least 40 animals per year and possibly higher.
Moreover, there is no evidence that tiger poaching has declined significantly since the early 1990s. This is despite intensified conservation and protection measures in Sumatra, and the apparent success globally in curtailing markets for tiger bone.