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Wed 17 Mar 2004

Sumatran tiger being hunted to extinction.

Category : envt

Thee world lost the Bali tiger (Panthera tigris balica) in the 1940's, the Caspian tiger (P. t. virgata) in the 1970's and the Javan tiger (P. t. sondaica) in the 1980's. All extinct. This decade, the death knell has been rung for the Sumatran Tiger (P. t. sumatrae).

TRAFFIC Southeast Asia just released a report entitled the "Nowhere to hide: The trade in Sumatran Tiger". You can read the pdf document here.

Apparently estimates suggested ther were 400-500 Sumatran tigers in the wild in 1999. But an estimated 253 tigers were killed between 1998-2002. So the population might been halved? Extinction certainly looms.

Once again it is trading in tiger parts (quarter of 484 shops and dealers surveyed had tiger parts for sale), both locally (substantial) and internationally, and thus poaching. And loss of forest habitat due to commercial and illegal logging.

They also say "Traders report that tiger parts are sold to Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia and China. Singapore and Malaysia may act as transit countries as well as consumers for tiger parts."

In Singapore, the government's Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority's (AVA) CITES unit raided local TCM shops but revealed only fake material. This time. Or perhaps they had been dissuaded by the earlier recce and attention of ACRES and The New Paper. Or changing public perception? One hopes.

Efforts like that by ACRES, the New Paper and AVA are to be applauded. At the very least, the scrutiny locally has to be maintained. Population estimates suggest that north of Singapore, both Malaysia and Thailand are possibly host to another subspecies - some 500 Indochinese tigers (P. t. corbeti) each - this works out to two thirds the estimated wild population of the Indochinese Tiger.

Other references:

Shepherd, C. R. and N. Magnus, 2004. "Nowhere to hide: The trade in Sumatran Tiger". TRAFFICSoutheast Asia. 108p. Links to pdf file.
Bhattacharya, S. 2004. "Sumatran tiger being hunted to extinction". NewScientist.com news service, 16 March 04.
Sumatran Tiger - Panthera tigris sumatrae. WWF, updated 2004. See their summary on medicinal and magic uses of tiger parts.
"Status of the tiger in May 1998". The Tiger Information Centre. A resource page about tigers with articles, editorials, educational material and links.

Posted at 12:31AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email | Raffles Museum news