Indonesia: Tiger shot dead, chopped up, eaten

Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post 10 Mar 16;

A female Sumatran tiger has been shot dead after wandering into a village in North Tapanuli regency, North Sumatra, according to the North Sumatra Natural Resource Conservation Agency (BKSDA).

The agency’s protection, preservation and mapping section head, Joko Iswanto, told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday that residents of Silantom Tong village had had the beast shot, then butchered it.

“Only the head remains; we’re keeping it safe at the BKSDA office in Medan,” Joko said.

His office, he added, had not yet ascertained the age of the ill-fated animal, but said that going by the size of its head, it was an adult.

According to reports compiled by Joko, the tiger was caught in a trap set by villagers.

It managed to free itself, but instead of fleeing back into the jungle, the tiger instead made its way into the village.

The tiger reportedly roamed the streets of the village for some time, unnerving residents, who reported the sighting to the police.

R. Simatupang, a resident of Silantom Tong, said that he and his fellow villagers had asked the police to shoot the tiger; once the tiger was dead, the villagers dismembered and diced the carcass, distributing the meat to the settlement’s households to be eaten.

Locals refer to such practices as binda.

“Binda is a traditional way to treat wild animals — we cut them into pieces and distribute the meat,” Simatupang said.

He would not be surprised, he added, to see further tigers enter the village, which is located on the edge of the jungle.

“We hope the [local] forestry agency and security officers will determine the whereabouts of tigers in the forest near Silantom and stop them from disturbing people,” Simatupang said.

Joko, meanwhile, said that the tiger was a victim of growing conflict between humankind and other species, as its habitat had been destroyed by illegal logging.

“Tigers are forced to leave their natural habitats because the forest and surroundings are being damaged by illegal logging,” Joko said.

He added that the conflict between tigers and humans had claimed numerous lives on both sides.

In 2014, a Sumatran tiger was speared to death by people in Toba Samosir regency.

Last year, a 5-year-old tiger almost died after one of its legs was amputated. The leg was decaying after being caught in a trap set by residents of Batu Madinding subdistrict in Mandailing Natal regency.

In terms of human fatalities, Joko said, at least eight people living in the environs of Batang Gadis National Park (TNBG) in North Sumatra had reportedly been killed in tiger attacks between 2008 and 2014.

The population of Sumatran tigers in the park is thought to stand at between 10 and 19.

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

The organization has reported that the species is struggling with habitat loss amid the expansion of oil palm and acacia plantations, as well as illegal trading, 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 use in traditional medicines in Asia.

Data from the BKSDA show that the population of Sumatran tigers in the wild currently stands at around 400 across the entirety of the island of Sumatra.

Death of rare Sumatran tiger draws ire, scorn
Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post 11 Mar 16;

Enviromental activists have condemned the killing and butchering of a Sumatran tiger by residents of Silantom Tonga village in North Tapanuli regency, North Sumatra.

Activists from the Sumatra Rainforest Institute, Scorpion, the Indonesian Species Conservation Program and the Orangutan Information Center on Thursday flocked to the North Sumatra Police headquarters in Medan to urge the force to thoroughly investigate the mistreatment of the tiger.

A spokesperson for the groups, Panut Hadisiswoyo, said they had called on the police to take tough action against the police officer reported to have shot the tiger dead after it wandered into Silantom Tonga.

“This was a barbaric act and a violation of law,” Panut said after meeting officers from the North Sumatra Police’s special crime directorate.

When tigers wandered into villages, he went on, they should not be killed, but shooed away back into the jungle.

“Ironically, it was a police officer — who should be aware that the Sumatran tiger is a protected animal — who shot the tiger,” he said.

Directorate head Adj. Sr. Comr. Robin Simatupang said the force would begin investigation upon reception of complete reports from the North Tapanuli Police..

The 1.5-meter female tiger weighing 80 kilograms was shot dead by an officer from the Pangaribuan Police on Monday, at the request of local people who had alerted the police after the beast wandered into the village.

The villagers then dismembered and butchered the carcass, distributing the meat to local households to be eaten.

Such practices are locally referred to as binda, a tradition whereby any wild animals encountered are slaughtered and eaten.

Anthropologist and noted Batak cultural figure Bungaran Simanjuntak of Medan State University insisted that eating wild animals, especially protected ones, was not a Batak tradition.

If certain Batak communities ate tiger meat, he said, it might mean they were related to a certain cult or local tradition.

“For a long time now, we Bataks have shunned eating the meat of Sumatran tigers,” Bungaran said.

Animals traditionally eaten by the Batak people as part of certain traditions included buffalo, swine, cows and goats, he said.

Bungaran added that although the killing of the tiger was intolerable, he did not want to rush to blame the denizens of Silantom Tonga.

“It’s possible that they didn’t realize that the Sumatran tiger was a protected species,” he suggested.

To prevent similar incidents from reoccurring, he urged authorities to inform villagers of which species were endangered and should not be eaten.

North Sumatra Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) protection section head Joko Iswanto said the agency would summon 50 residents of Silantom Tonga for questioning.

Questioning, Joko said, would be carried out in stages, starting from village leaders to local community figures. “We will announce later whether they are guilty or not,” he said.

“We have noted 50 names allegedly involved in the distribution of the tiger meat,” he added.

BKSDA data show that the population of Sumatran tigers in North Sumatra is sharply decreasing as a result of conflict with humans.

In 2014 a Sumatran tiger was speared to death by people in Toba Samosir regency, while last year, a 5-year-old tiger almost died after having its leg amputated. The leg was decaying after being caught in a trap set by residents in Batu Madinding subdistrict, Batang Natal district, Mandailing Natal regency.

The Wildlife Conservation Society Indonesia Program (WCSIP) has recorded a decrease in the population of Sumatran tigers from 150 in the 1990s to 100 as of today; the majority live in and around Mount Leuser National Park, which straddles the border between North Sumatra and Aceh.

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