So why are Sumatran tigers trapped and dying from snares?
It’s because snares are brutal and the perfect thing for poachers to use in their quest to take down the beautiful Sumatran tiger.
Bali tigers and Javan tigers died this way. And the need to change the status of the Sumatran tiger is urgent. For the Sumatran tiger, the smallest of all the tiger sub-species, is going the same way.
There are less than 400 Sumatran tigers living in the wild – that’s an estimate. These cats are generally shy, and keen to avoid people. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists them as Critically Endangered.
Why are their numbers so low?
Kerinci Seblat National Park and the Ulu Masen and Leuser ecosystems of Aceh on the Indonesian island of Sumatra are global priority areas for tiger conservation.
FFI is an international wildlife conservation organisation, with a science-based approach to conservation. Founded, in 1903, they have saved species from extinction over the last 100 years and – helped by their Vice President, Sir David Attenborough – they have helped bring mountain gorillas back from the brink. Their mission is to conserve threatened species and ecosystems worldwide, choosing solutions that are sustainable, based on sound science, and which take into account human needs. They have over 140 conservation projects around the world and they work in over 40 countries.
WCS (that’s the Wildlife Conservation Society) has emailed to warn that US government programmes helping to conserve species such as tigers, elephants, rhinos and others are under threat.
WCS works to save wildlife and wild places in nearly 60 countries and across the ocean.
Trump’s Administration is looking at cuts to programs that protect wildlife.
WCS need as many people as possible from the US to urge their Congress members to support international programmes.
These include programmes such as the USAID Biodiversity Program and the Multinational Species Conservation Fund. Key efforts at USAID and the Department of State fight international wildlife trafficking programmes. The Global Environment Facility which plays a key role fighting the wildlife trafficking which is driving the slaughter of elephants and rhinos. Programmes that conserve vulnerable species in the wild and protect the last wild places on earth are at risk.
For anyone concerned about the illegal wildlife trade, this surely is a must-see programme – especially so if you’re a big cat or tiger lover.
Aldo Kane reports on the illegal tiger trade in south east Asia in an episode for BBC2’s Natural History series
The big cats are trafficked for products such as wine and glue, made from their bones.
Aldo Kane is a formal commando. He now trains African anti-poaching teams. And he spends time in Thailand, Laos and Vietnam following the route of trafficked animals which end up as tiger bone medicine or aphrodisiacs for Chinese and Vietnamese customers. He shows how the breed is on the brink of extinction – there are about 4,000 tigers left in the wild – and almost 8,000 held captive in zoos, breeding units and basement cages across south east Asia.
The breeding and farming of captive tigers drives consumer demand for tiger products and in turn fuels wild tiger poaching.
Aldo Kane gets into farms by breaking in or posing as a tourist or customer, and gathers evidence, aided by local colleagues, which he presents to CITES in Geneva. CITES is short for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
Tigers – Hunting the Traffickers is on BBC2 on Wednesday 4 March 2020 at 9pm. It will be available shortly after broadcast for viewing.
They have a number of videos (which they call public service announcements) they have put together to educate people about the illegal wildlife trade and to tell people not to get involved in it. Take a look at the videos and share them if you can.
A key way forward to ensure the survival of wildlife is to work with people.
And the work IFAW are doing for jaguars in the Americas is a great example. Joaquin de la Toore Ponce, Dr Erika Flores and Polen Cisneros are working right on the front lines to protect biodiversity in this part of the world.
Jaguars are top predators in their environment. They help maintain a balanced food web and promote biodiversity. Lose the jaguar – and hundreds of other species could be threatened as well such as deer, peccaries and capybaras who would overpopulate without jaguars. This could have a devastating impact on landscapes and wildlife.
Jaguar numbers plummeted during the twentieth century, thanks to hunting and agricultural development. They are an elusive big cat, so it’s difficult to know exact jaguar numbers – but one thing is for certain, conservationists are sure that the jaguar is at tipping point.
So how are IFAW helping jaguars?
They are working with people across the community to tackle problems:
Working with local communities, to tackle the problem of local dogs attracting the jaguars
The problem: Jaguars were preying on dogs on the outskirts of Playa del Carmen in Mexico. The big cats were in search of land and food – deforestation, mining and development had damaged their natural habitat.
As the jaguars attacked their dogs, so the people retaliated and killed the jaguars. Human-wildlife conflict developed. And there was the danger of the big cats getting deadly diseases such as canine distemper from dogs who weren’t vaccinated; a dog killed by a jaguar and brought home to feed cubs on, could wipe out a jaguar family, if they had such a disease.
The solution: Erika and Joaquin hired community members to build blue wooden dog-houses – and with good shelter, nutrition and better health, the dogs didn’t roam so much. IFAW’s local partner Coco’s Animal Welfare helped sterilise and vaccinate dogs, and their numbers stabilised. Diseases fell. The initiative spread to other towns. Now Erika and the team from Coco’s Animal Welfare do wellness checks in communities; they supply dog houses, and make chicken coops predator proof; they offer free vet services. And the animals and people are all co-existing.
Working with law enforcement agencies to tackle the illegal wildlife trade
The problem: The illegal wildlife trade
There’s a booming market in Latin America and Asia for jaguar fangs, pelts and claws – even though the jaguar is protected by CITES. International trade of live jaguars and jaguar parts is illegal but the market still exists through networks of poachers and traders.
The solution: Joaquin and Polen held a wildlife enforcement training session in Guyana, South America. They united police officers, customs agents, airport authorities and park wardens to make them a stronger network who are united under the goal of protecting threatened species and enforcing repercussions for illegal wildlife trade. They all support each other.
Working with higher level officials to protect jaguars
Joaquin has been able to strengthen the policies which provide greatear protection for jaguars. Jaguars are now included in the Appendix I + II of the Convention of the Conservation of Migratory Species. Members countries are committed to assuring that jaguar habitat and migration corridors are protected.
There are certainly challenges ahead but the IFAW example shows how important it is for conservation organisations to work with every level of communities and how much local communities can be such a vital tool in successful wildlife conservation.