Two people, a 32-year-old plantation worker and a 34-year-old worker, have been killed. A special team is trying to capture the animal alive to move it to a nature reserve. The tiger has already escaped two attempts to capture it; it has also killed many domestic animals.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The authorities in Indragiri Hilir regency, Riau province, have set up special team to hunt down a female Sumatran tiger, who began killing last January. So far, two residents in the village of Tanjung Simpang (Pelangiran), have died.
The cat, nicknamed Bonita by the locals, attacked first on 3 January, killing Jumiati, a 32-year-old woman, a farmhand in a palm oil plantation. The tiger killed again on 10 March. The victim, Yusri Effendi, was a 34-year-old worker.
Over the past few months, Bonita has been sighted several times near the village, sparking fears in the local population.
The special unit set up by local authorities last week wants to capture animal alive in order to take it put back in its natural environment.
The team includes government officials, soldiers, police, forest rangers and activists, as well as villagers and representatives of the companies that own local plantations.
Before the group was created, two months of looking for the animal have proven fruitless. On one occasion, the trackers managed to hit Bonita with an anesthetising bullet, but the beast was able to escape and has continued to wander around Tanjung Simpang, attacking residents' domestic animals.
The last sighting was four days ago, when a CCTV camera of the Ministry of the Environment caught Bonita approaching a goat, used as bait to capture her. The cat did not fall for the trap and fled again.
The Indonesian government and NGOs dedicated to animal welfare have been involved in protecting the Sumatran tiger, whose scientific name is Panthera Tigris Sumatrae, because its numbers have been steadily dwindling for several years.
According to a 2004 WWF report, less than 400 Sumatran tigers were still found in the wild. By 2007, that number was down to 192, mainly in the Riau forests, where most palm oil plantations are located, and whose development has drastically reduced the species’ habitat.