The animal is high on the endangered species list due to habitat loss and poaching. One tiger grabbed a woman trying to escape up a tree.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – A woman was attacked and killed in Riau province by a Sumatran Tiger (pictured) on 3 January. The animal belongs to a tiger subspecies, Panthera Tigris Sumatrae, that is in danger of extinction due to habitat loss and poaching.
Indonesian authorities and several NGOs, including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), are seriously committed to the protection of the species whose population is constantly shrinking.
According to WWF figures, there were only 400 Sumatran Tigers in 2004, a number reduced to 192 in 2007, mostly found in the Riau forests where many palm plantations are located.
New, huge palm plantations, created also by large forest fires, have drastically reduced the tigers’ habitat.
Illegal trade has also contributed to the reduction in numbers. Especially prized are tiger skins – a reddish colour, darker than in other tigers – and nails, considered aphrodisiac in traditional medicine.
According to recent data, the lucrative illegal traffic is the main cause for the steep drop in the number of tigers. In the 1998 - 2002 period, at least 50 tigers were killed illegally, despite the tough measures against the black market: two years in prison and US$ 10,000 in fines.
It is not easy to identify the poachers because they operate in areas that are hard to reach. The rare animal is found in fact only in the deep forest of the island of Sumatra.
Some tigers live in the Gunung Leuser National Park, which straddles the border of North Sumatra and Aceh provinces. Others can be found in the Batang Gadis National Park, in North Sumatra province, as well as in some forests in Riau province.
Physically, the Sumatran tiger is the smallest subspecies. The male is 60 cm tall and 250 cm long from head to tail and weighs 140 kg, while the female is 198 cm long and weighs 91 kg.
Sometimes, these wild animals and human beings can have “unexpected” encounters in palm plantations, which is what happened on 3 January to a 32-year-old woman, named Jumiati.
When she saw the animal, she tried to climb a tree, but was grabbed by the legs, dragged down and killed. Two other people who were with her laid down on the ground and pretended to be dead, thus saving themselves.