Illegal plantations threaten Sumatran tiger with extinction

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

The expansion of illegal oil palm plantations into Indonesian national parks is pushing the Sumatran tiger towards extinction, a study has found.

Fewer than 600 of the species remain in the wild and it is graded as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The study examined 15 landscapes on the island of Sumatra that provide habitat for the tiger and found that a fifth of the forest cover had been lost since 2000, largely due to palm oil plantations.

The lead author of the study, Mathew Luskin, told Mongabay: “We found that the primary threat to tiger populations has switched from poaching to habitat loss over the last two decades.”

Only Mount Leuser and Kerinci Seblat national parks have now sufficiently large Sumatran tiger populations, with more than 30 breeding-age females each, that can be sustained over the long term.

Both parks remain under pressure from illegal plantation expansion.

Luskin told Mongabay: “We would like a complete stop to all future deforestation and zero tiger poaching in all remaining tiger landscapes.”

Image on homepage shows a Sumatran tiger in Gunung Leuser National Park, courtesy of Matthew Luskin