Indonesia: Two Sumatran tiger cubs born at Bukittinggi wildlife park

Syofiardi Bachyul Jb, The Jakarta Post 16 Jan 16;

A Sumatran tiger at the Kinantan Cultural and Wildlife Park (TMBK) in Bukittinggi, West Sumatra, gave birth to a pair of male cubs on Thursday, increasing the number of Sumatran tigers at the park to seven.

TMBK head Ikbal said that the mother tiger, Sean, was 4-years-old and had been pregnant for three months before delivering her cubs. The gestation period for tigers ranges from 80 to 100 days.

“At 8 in the morning, our officers noticed the mother had given birth to two tigers, each weighing 1.5 kilograms and in robust health,” Ikbal told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

According to Ikbal, Sean shares a cage with her mate, 4-year-old Si Bancah; to prevent trouble, Sean and her two babies have now been moved.

“We’ve isolated Sean and her two babies from Si Bancah and visitors because they could distract her. The mother tiger might even refuse to breastfeed her cubs,” Ikbal said.

The isolation period would last around two months, Ikbal said, based on the park’s previous experience, in 2014, of a female tiger giving birth.

After two months, Ikbal said, Sean and her babies would be returned to Si Bancah’s cage, where visitors would be allowed to observe them and, on certain occasions, touch them.

The two infant tigers will have been given names by the time they are introduced to the public.

With the births of the two cubs, the park boasts seven Sumatran tigers, four of them male.

“This has been a happy week for us because on Jan. 7 a clouded leopard also gave birth to a healthy cub here,” Ikbal revealed.

West Sumatra Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) head Margo Utomo warmly welcomed the birth of the two tiger cubs, referring to it as a blessing for the beginning of the year.

“This news comes as very welcome news in light of the current decreasing tiger population,” Margo said.

The population of Sumatran tigers, he added, was currently was around 400 in the whole of Sumatra, and the species is under severe threat. Last year the West Sumatra BKSDA found a tiger that had been killed as a result of conflict with humans.

“We are optimistic that tiger habitats still exist in the forests of West Sumatra. We installed a camera in a protected forest in Pasaman, and it recorded footage showing four tigers,” Margo said.

His office’s primary function, he went on, was to prevent the tiger population from falling any further by working to prevent conflict with humans arising in buffer zones.

The Switzerland-based International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the Sumatran tiger as a critically endangered species since 1996.

The organization reported that the species had been struggling with habitat loss amid expansion of oil palm and acacia plantations, as well as illegal trade, primarily for the domestic market.

Poachers frequently hunt the tigers, which are native to the vast and diverse habitats of Sumatra, as their body parts fetch high prices for their use in traditional Chinese medicine.

In August last year, the Indonesian police arrested four men for allegedly killing a Sumatran tiger and trying to sell its body parts.

Acting on a tipoff, a group of police officers posing as potential buyers arrested the men as they allegedly attempted to sell the tiger’s skin, bones and teeth.

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