Indonesia: Only 5 Sumatran Tigers Left in Bengkulu's Mukomuko

Usmin & Ratri M. Siniwi Jakarta Globe 5 Aug 16;

Bengkulu. Only five Sumatran tigers are estimated to be living in the Mukomuko district of Bengkulu, South Sumatra, the local forestry agency has predicted after hunting and habitat loss destroyed the population.

“We estimate the number of Sumatran tigers left in Mukomuko to be five, roaming around the forests of Kerinci Sebelat National Park, situated between Kerinci and Mukomuko,” Fernandi, head of forestry at the local department of agriculture, livestock, plantation and forestry (DP3K), said in Bengkulu on Thursday (04/08).

According to Fernandi, one of the major causes is due to the major loss of habitat, leaving the tigers few places to hunt for food and driving them to hunt outside of conservation areas. Sumatran tiger habitat has been shrinking after decades of the palm oil plantation boom — which led to a land clearances — across Sumatra.

The tigers are believed to have been preying on goats in the village.

“This assumption is based on the frequent occurrences [of tigers] around the residential communities. The tigers often come out at night, and go back to their habitats at dawn, ” Fernandi said.

Villagers hunt and kill the tigers to save their stock, while others live in fear of themselves becoming preyed upon.

In response, the Bengkulu Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) has teamed up with the department to save protected species.

“We will continue to coordinate with Bengkulu BKSDA and will report to them if there is a tiger seen going to the villages,” Fernandi said.

The DP3K will also continue to monitor the public in order to stop them from hunting the critically endangered Sumatran tigers, as there are only 371 left in the wild. The total population of Sumateran tiger left across Bengkulu province is still unknown.

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