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Sumatran tiger population threatened by human activities

Last Updated: Sunday, June 30, 2013 - 14:53

Washington: Sumatran tigers - the tiger specie found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra - is on the verge of extinction due to high levels of human activities, a new research has suggested.

According to Virginia Tech and World Wildlife Fund researchers, tigers in central Sumatra live at very low densities, which is lower than previously believed.

Sunarto, a tiger and elephant specialist with World Wildlife Fund-Indonesia, and co-researchers Marcella Kelly, an associate professor of wildlife in the College of Natural Resources and Environment, and Erin Poor of East Lansing, Mich., a doctoral student studying wildlife science and geospatial environmental analysis in the college studied areas and habitat types not previously surveyed, which could inform interventions needed to save the tiger.

Sunarto said that tigers are not only threatened by habitat loss from deforestation and poaching but are also sensitive to human disturbance.

He asserted that the tigers cannot survive in areas without adequate understory, but they are also threatened in seemingly suitable forests when there is too much human activity.

The smallest surviving tiger subspecies, Sumatran tigers are extremely elusive and may live at densities as low as one cat per 40 square miles.

Kelly said that getting evidence of the tigers` presence is difficult and it took an average of 590 days for camera traps to get an image of each individual tiger recorded.

Sunarto said that the low detection of tigers in the study area of central Sumatra was a result of the high level of human activity - farming, hunting, trapping, and gathering of forest products.

He added that they found a low population of tigers in these areas, even when there was an abundance of prey animals.

The study has been published in Oryx - The International Journal of Conservation.


First Published: Sunday, June 30, 2013 - 14:52

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