From: Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM, More from this Affiliate
Published November 10, 2011 01:44 PM

First ever survey shows Sumatran tiger hanging on as forests continue to vanish

The first-ever Sumatran-wide survey of the island's top predator, the Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae), proves that the great cat is holding on even as forests continue to vanish. The study, carried out by eight NGOs and the Indonesian government, shows that the tiger is still present in 70 percent of the forests surveyed, providing hope for the long-term survival of the subspecies if remaining forests are protected.


"This survey is a milestone for Sumatran tigers. The results provide the most up-to-date and reliable information ever collected for this Critically Endangered subspecies and is the first time that such a large number of organizations have worked together so effectively," lead author Hariyo Wibisono of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and chairman of the Sumatran Tiger Forum (HarimauKita) said in a press release. WCS was joined by Panthera's Tigers Forever program, Fauna and Flora International (FFI), and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) among others.

Researchers surveyed 13,500 kilometers of forest transects seeking indirect signs of the tiger, such as footprints. They found new priorities for tiger conservation, including the Leuser-Ulu Masen landscape in Aceh Province.

"This study puts Aceh's previously unsurveyed forest firmly on the map as a global priority for wild tigers in Asia," explained co-author Matthew Linkie with FFI. Notably, Aceh has implemented an effective logging moratorium since 2007, preserving its forests. Another region that showed tigers doing well was the Kerinci Seblat-Batang Hari forest landscape.

Still, good news was not found everywhere. Riau Province, where deforestation has been extensive in recent decades, proved that tigers were not surviving in severely degraded forests. The region has the fewest tigers by far, according to the paper.

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