The Sumatran tiger, a critically-endangered subspecies, is hanging on by a thread in its island home, reports Mongabay.com.
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.
While the connection between deforestation and tiger attacks has been put forth as a possible reason for the rise in attacks, a new study that looks at 12 years of tiger encounters confirms it.
Eyes on the Forest, a coalition of 25 environmental organizations, has mapped out encounters between humans and tigers, many of which ended tragically, and found that the majority took place adjacent to forested areas being cleared by APP.
In Riau Province, Sumatra, 55 people and 15 tigers have lost their lives due to the conflict. An additional 17 tigers have been captured and removed from their habitat.
The study found that 60% of the encounters (147 out of 245) between humans and tigers occurred in areas associated with expanded deforestation by APP and associated companies, under the umbrella of Sinar Mas Group (SMG).
Since 1985, Sumatra has lost half of its remaining forest. Worsening the situation for tigers is the continual decline of prey for the tigers due to heavy poaching by humans.
“With so much forest loss, the tigers have nowhere to go” said Ian Kosasih of WWF-Indonesia.
“In the last month alone, four tigers have been killed in Riau. There are fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers estimated to remain in the wild and every tiger killed is a significant loss to the population of this critically endangered subspecies.”
Since beginning operations in 1980, campaigners say the company has been responsible for more deforestation in Sumatra than any other corporation.
It is estimated that APP has pulped a total of 2.5 million acres.
Calls for the company to stop logging natural forests by Eyes on the Forest and other NGOs have so far fallen on deaf ears.
APP supplies Target and Unilever in the United States. Other corporations like Staples, Walmart, Home Depot, and the Australian company, Woolworths Limited, have all cut ties with the paper giant due to an increasingly troubling environmental record.
Date: 18/03 /2009
Filed under: animals, conservation, deforestation, forestry sector, illegal logging, protest, tropical timber | Tagged: app, biologists, conservation, deforestation, extinction threat, eyes on the forest, indonesian, mongabay, paper pulp, sumatran tiger, tiger human conflict, tigers, timber, tropical forests, wwf |