Conservation officials on the Indonesian island of Sumatra have confirmed that a female Sumatran tiger found dead in Riau province last Wednesday, was pregnant with two cubs at the time of her death.
Locals had alerted the conservation agency that a female Sumatran tiger had been spotted in a hunter’s trap earlier in the week.
Officials Fail To Free Rare Tiger From Rope Trap
Although conservation officers rushed to the location of the reported sighting in rainforest outside of Pekanbaru, by the time the officers arrived the tiger had broken free of the rope trap and was gone.
Officers returned to conduct a thorough search of the surrounding area the following day, and found the tiger dead by the side of a ravine.
The nylon rope from the hunter’s trap was still wrapped the tiger’s belly, and it is believed that the creature may have became entangled in the rope and asphyxiated.
Only 400 Sumatran Tigers Left In The Wild
There are only around 400 Sumatran tigers living in the wild today, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) considers Sumatran tigers to be a Critically Endangered species.
The Sumatran tiger is now the only surviving tiger population in the Sundra Islands, part of the Malay Archipelago. Others tigers species once indigenous to the archipelago, including the Bali and Javan tiger, became extinct in the mid-twentieth century.
Already in decline, populations of the Sumatran tiger halved between 1985 and 1990, mainly as a result of habitat loss due to deforestation.
Black Market Medicine Risk To Sumatran Tiger Future
While poaching of the rare tiger species for the supposed medicinal value of its body parts has posed a challenge for conservationists in Indonesia, officials do not believe that the pregnant Sumatran tiger found dead last week had been deliberately hunted.
Villagers in the forests of Sumatra often set rope traps in order to catch wild pigs and unfortunately there have been a number of cases in recent years in which tigers, often lured by a trapped pig, have become caught up in the ropes, suffering injury and sometimes death.
The plight of the Sumatran tiger has long been a symbol in the global movement for the conversation of rare species. Yet as deforestation brings humans and tigers into closer contact the future of the Sumatran tiger in the wild is still far from certain.