Tigers and Humans Tangle in Sumatra; Both Sides Lose

By Rachel Cernansky | April 2, 2009 3:22 pm

tiger.jpgA growing conflict between Indonesian loggers and the critically endangered Sumatran tiger has incurred a death toll on both sides, with little solution in sight. Environmentalists say that Asian Pulp and Paper (APP), one of the largest paper companies in the world, has destroyed much of the island of Sumatra’s rainforest. The activists argue that the tigers, whose wild population is thought to hover at around 400 but could be as low as 250, have been left without a natural habitat and have increasingly regarded humans for food. Eyes on the Forest, a coalition of 25 environmental organizations, has released a report to back up the allegation.

By overlaying the locations of [human-tiger] conflicts with government maps of pulpwood plantation concessions, Eyes on the Forest found a direct correlation between tiger conflict and the unsustainable forest practices of APP, its holding company Sinar Mas Group, and other associated companies that supply pulpwood to APP’s mills [Wildlife Extra], with 60 percent of the total 245 human-tiger encounters having taken place on land associated with those companies.

As their forests disappear under loggers’ saws or to make way for plantations, Sumatra’s endangered tigers are, quite simply, turning to humans for food [BBC]. APP, which has been convicted of illegal logging in Indonesia, China, and Cambodia, and produces 5 million tons of paper and packaging materials every year, is responsible for more natural forest clearance in Sumatra—the only habitat for the Sumatran tiger—than any other company [Wildlife Extra]. Sumatra has lost half of its remaining rainforest since 1985, and environmentalists allege that illegal loggers and farmers are clearing land on the island’s national parks. Worsening the situation for tigers is the continual decline of prey for the tigers due to heavy poaching by humans [Mongabay.com].

In Riau Province, Sumatra, 55 people and 15 tigers have lost their lives due to the conflict. An additional 17 tigers have been captured and removed from their habitat [Mongabay.com], and some say that the incidents have become so frequent recently that deadly tiger attacks on humans have reached one per week. Catching the tigers, however, does not solve the problem. People should be safe from the threat of tiger attack, but the endangered species should not be left to go extinct, [Jakarta Post], environmentalists argue.

Logging might be illegal, but for the people living here the punishment seems disproportionate…. “We’re victims, not thieves. We go to the forest to put food on the table. You can’t blame us for this conflict with the tigers” [BBC], said one local man who lost two family members in tiger attacks while cutting down wood nearby.

Related Content:
80beats: It’s Hard Out Here for a Tiger, World Bank Says

Image: Flickr / Brimac The 2nd

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Living World
  • patrick

    I firmly believe the tigers have more business being in the forest than the people.

    Yes, I understand it’s pretty hard to log a pasture, but that doesn’t mean we should be wiping out species just so we can wipe up after we make a mess.

    Not only are we destroying a non-renewable habitat, but also it’s inhabitants.

    I’d rather see 6 billion hungry tigers here who maim people, than 6 billion people who don’t care about anything but feeding their over-sized families.

    Let’s see here, which matters more 55 out of 6,000,000,000 or 15 out of 400?

    I take the tiger’s side. At least they can’t be educated.

    Mankind can be taught, but refuses to care.

    Does anyone else think the world human population should have peaked by now? Instead we seem determined to cause all other species to peak, then rapidly decline.

    We have no business killing animals that are not only critically endangered but have a long gestation period as well as no use as a food source.

    We pray for every Tom, Dick, and Harry to get over the sniffles, yet we don’t worry about all of these beautiful creatures being wiped out of existence.

    Maybe the whole planet would benefit if we took a hint from ole’ mother nature and began to let people die when they get sick, then perhaps we wouldn’t need so many paper goods.

    If only there were more man-eating tigers…..

  • http://tiaraofdiamonds@Care2.com Carole Greer

    Where do your prioritites lie? There must be a healthy balance for all. Only Humanitarians
    can work it out. If we save the Tigers, we are helping Humanity Too.

  • Lorii Hernandez

    we humans have to respect animals and habitats this company is not locals is has to be regulated save tigers

  • Pat Cotter

    Once again, hemp is the answer to these logging problems. One acre of hemp makes as much paper as four acres of trees, is beneficial to both the land and fulfills the nutritional needs of these communities. Humanity must overcome greed in order to survive.

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