Critically endangered Sumatran tigers lost to animal traps


FILE - A five-year-old Sumatran tiger, crouches next to her two-month-old cubs inside a cage at the Bali Zoo in Bali, Indonesia, Saturday, July 28, 2018. Three critically endangered Sumatran tigers were found dead after being caught in traps on Indonesia’s Sumatra island in the latest setback for a species whose numbers are estimated to have dwindled to about 400, authorities said Monday. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati, File)

THREE critically endangered Sumatran tigers were found dead after being caught in traps on Sumatra island in the latest setback for a species whose numbers are estimated to have dwindled to about 400, authorities said.

A female and a male tiger were found dead on Sunday with leg injuries caused by a snare trap near a palm oil plantation in East Aceh district of Aceh province, said local police chief Hendra Sukmana.

The body of another female tiger was found hours later about 500m away with a snare still embedded in her almost-severed neck and legs.

Sukmana said authorities had appealed to the community and plantation companies not to set snares in forest areas where wild animals may cross.

An autopsy was underway to determine the causes of the tigers’ deaths, said Agus Arianto, who heads the conservation agency in Aceh, adding that several traps similar to ones used to capture wild boars on farms were found in the area around the dead tigers.

Snare traps are commonly used by farmers on Sumatra island to catch wild boars, which are considered destructive pests with a wide and ravenous appetite for a variety of plants.

But poachers have also used snare traps to kill endangered wildlife for economic purposes.

“We strongly condemned this incident and will cooperate with law enforcement agencies in an investigation,” Arianto said.

Under Indonesia’s Conservation of Natural Resources and Ecosystems law, those who intentionally kill protected animals would face up to five years in prison and a fine of 100 million rupiah (RM29,855).

Sumatran tigers – the most critically endangered tiger subspecies – are under growing pressure due to poaching and a shrinking jungle habitat, said the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.

It estimated that fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers remain in the wild.Conservationists say the coronavirus pandemic has led to increased poaching as villagers turn to hunting to supplement diminished incomes. — AP

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