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Sumatran Tiger on brink of extinction
16 March 2004, Cambridge/UK


Indonesia is set to lose its last remaining tiger species - the Sumatran tiger - if the widespread illegal trade in tiger parts and rampant habitat loss is not stopped, according to TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network and WWF, the global conservation organisation.

A new report by TRAFFIC, on trade in the Sumatran Tiger reveals that at least 50 Sumatran tigers were poached per year between 1998 and 2002. The latest available figures show that there are between 400 and 500 tigers left in the wild in Sumatra.

The report exposes the relentless killing of a critically endangered species by professional and semi-professional hunters. This is being driven by a substantial domestic Indonesian market for tiger skins and other parts, especially claws and teeth for trophies, charms and souvenirs. Tiger parts are readily available from dealers, within Sumatra, many of these openly displayed for sale. TRAFFIC's investigators found tiger products in 17 of the 24 towns surveyed and 20 per cent of 453 shops visited. The report also reveals illegal international trade in Sumatran tiger parts sold to other parts of Asia.

"Increased and improved enforcement is critical to saving Sumatran tigers", said Steven Broad, Executive Director of TRAFFIC. "As a first step, action should be taken against the markets, trade hubs and retail outlets highlighted in the report, especially in northern Sumatra. More specialised anti-poaching units also need to be urgently established."

Loss of habitat is also a major threat to the Sumatran tiger. WWF is calling for a moratorium on clearing Sumatra's lowland forests, prime tiger territory, by two of the world's biggest paper companies APP and APRIL. The clearing of habitat has resulted in the tigers roaming into local villages, where they are sometimes captured and killed.

"Tigers all over the world are under threat from poaching, loss of habitat and conflict with nearby human populations. Now, the Sumatran tiger is on the brink of extinction,." said Dr. Susan Lieberman, Director of WWF's International Species Programme. "With so few left, there are doubts about whether the population is still viable. The current poaching is jeopardizing the survival of entire populations, and indeed the very future of tigers on Sumatra---a tragic loss for the world, and for the very heritage of the people of Indonesia" With only a few hundred Sumatran tigers remaining, WWF fears they will suffer the same fate as two other Indonesian tiger subspecies, the Bali and Javan tigers which became extinct in the 1940s and 1980's respectively.

Indonesia's efforts to address the trade threats to the Sumatran tiger are under scrutiny at a meeting of the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) Standing Committee in Geneva this week. WWF and TRAFFIC call on the Indonesian government to increase anti-poaching measures and to crack down on the ongoing illegal international and domestic trade in Sumatran tiger parts.

Click here to download your personal copy of the full report titled ‘Nowhere to hide: The Trade in Sumatran Tiger’ by TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.

For further information:
Chris Shepherd, Regional Programme Officer for TRAFFIC Southeast Asia (in Malaysia) and co-author of the report, tel: +603 78803940, email: [email protected]

Maija Sirola, TRAFFIC Communications Co-ordinator, tel.+44 1223-277427, email: [email protected]

Notes to editors

    The Sumatran Tiger is listed as Critically Endangered, the highest category of threat, on the IUCN 2003 Red List of Threatened Animals (IUCN, 2003) The total population is estimated at just 400-500 Sumatran Tigers
    TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, works to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature. TRAFFIC is a joint programme of WWF, the conservation organization and IUCN – The World Conservation Union. www.traffic.org WWF, the global conservation organization, which takes action to conserve endangered species, protect endangered spaces and address global threats, by seeking long term solutions. www.panda.org




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