Laws protecting the critically endangered Sumatran Tiger have failed to prevent tiger body parts being offered on open sale in Indonesia, according to a new TRAFFIC report. Tiger body parts, including canine teeth, claws, skin pieces, whiskers and bones, were on sale in 10 percent of the 326 retail outlets surveyed during 2006 in 28 cities and towns across Sumatra. Outlets included goldsmiths, souvenir and traditional Chinese medicine shops, and shops selling antique and precious stones.
Laws protecting the critically endangered Sumatran Tiger have failed to prevent tiger body parts being offered on open sale in Indonesia, according to a new TRAFFIC report.
Tiger body parts, including canine teeth, claws, skin pieces, whiskers and bones, were on sale in 10 percent of the 326 retail outlets surveyed during 2006 in 28 cities and towns across Sumatra. Outlets included goldsmiths, souvenir and traditional Chinese medicine shops, and shops selling antique and precious stones.
The survey conservatively estimates that 23 tigers were killed to supply the products seen, based on the number of canine teeth on sale.
â€œThis is down from an estimate of 52 killed per year in 1999â€“2000â€, said Julia Ng, Programme Officer with TRAFFIC Southeast Asia and lead author on The Tiger Trade Revisited in Sumatra, Indonesia. â€œSadly, the decline in availability appears to be due to the dwindling number of tigers left in the wildâ€.
All of TRAFFICâ€™s surveys have indicated that Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province, and Pancur Batu, a smaller town situated about 15 km away, are the main hubs for the trade of tiger parts.
Despite TRAFFIC providing authorities with details of traders involved, apart from awareness-raising activities, it is not clear whether any serious enforcement action has been taken.
â€œSuccessive surveys continue to show that Sumatran tigers are being sold body part by body part into extinctionâ€, said Dr Susan Lieberman, Director of WWF Internationalâ€™s Species Programme. â€œThis is an enforcement crisis. If Indonesian authorities need enforcement help from the international community they should ask for it. If not, they should demonstrate they are taking enforcement seriouslyâ€.
The report recommends that resources and effort should concentrate on effective enforcement to combat the trade by arresting dealers and suppliers. Trade hotspots should be continually monitored and all intelligence be passed to the enforcement authorities for action. Those found guilty of trading in tigers and other protected wildlife should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Dr Tonny Soehartono, Director for Biodiversity Conservation, Ministry of Forestry of Republic of Indonesia, said: â€œWe have to deal with the trade. Currently we are facing many other crucial problems which, unfortunately, are causing the decline of Sumatran tiger populations.â€
â€œWe have been struggling with the issues of land use changes, habitat fragmentation, humanâ€“tiger conflicts and poverty in Sumatra. Land use changes and habitat fragmentation are driving the tiger closer to humans and thus creating humanâ€“tiger conflictsâ€.
As a recent show of commitment, the President of the Republic of Indonesia launched the Conservation Strategy and Action Plan of Sumatran Tiger 2007â€“2017 during the 2007 Climate Change Convention in Bali.
Sumatra's remaining few tigers are also under threat from rampant deforestation by the pulp and paper and palm oil industries. The combined threats of habitat loss and illegal tradeâ€”unless tackled immediatelyâ€”will be the death knell for Indonesian tigers.
â€œThe Sumatran tiger is already listed as Critically Endangered on IUCNâ€™s Red List of Threatened Species, the highest category of threat before extinction in the wild,â€ said Jane Smart, Head of IUCNâ€™s Species Programme. â€œWe cannot afford to lose any more of these magnificent creaturesâ€.
â€œThe Sumatran tiger population is estimated to be fewer than 400 to 500 individuals. It doesnâ€™t take a mathematician to work out that the Sumatran Tiger will disappear like the Javan and Bali tigers if the poaching and trade continuesâ€ Julia Ng adds.
As Indonesia currently chairs the ASEAN-Wildlife Enforcement Network, TRAFFIC National Co-ordinator Dr Ani Mardiastuti suggested the country â€œdemonstrate leadership to other ASEAN countries by taking action against illegal trade, including in tiger parts.â€