This subspecies was once prevalent in numerous regions of Indonesia’s Sunda islands. Now that tigers in Java and Bali are extinct, the only remaining Sunda tigers can be found in Sumatra.
- STATUS: Critically Endangered
- POPULATION: Less than 400
- SCIENTIFIC NAME: Panthera tigris sondaica
- WEIGHT: 165–308 pounds
- HABITATS: Tropical broadleaf evergreen forests, freshwater swamp forests and peat swamps
Sunda tigers are identified by their orange coats with thick black stripes. The last of the Sunda island tigers—estimated to be fewer than 400 today—are clinging to life in the island of Sumatra’s remnant forest patches. Deforestation is accelerating, and poaching is common, so this magnificent species, like its Javan and Balinese brethren, may go extinct.
Anyone found shooting tigers in Indonesia might face jail time and hefty penalties. Despite improved efforts in tiger conservation, such as boosting law enforcement and antipoaching capabilities, there is still a significant market for tiger parts and goods in Sumatra and other regions of Asia. Poaching is a constant threat to Sunda tigers, which are rapidly losing their habitat and prey.
Why They Matter
Sumatra is the only site in the world where tigers, rhinos, orangutans, and elephants coexist in the wild. The Sunda tiger’s presence is a good indicator of a forest’s health and biodiversity. Many other animals, including humans, benefit from the protection of tigers and their habitat.
Illegal Wildlife Trade
In Sumatra, the majority of tigers are murdered for commercial reasons. Poaching for trade, according to TRAFFIC, the global wildlife trade monitoring network, is responsible for about 80% of estimated Sumatran tiger deaths, or at least 40 animals each year.
Despite increased conservation and protection measures in some parts of Sumatra, as well as some success in reducing tiger bone markets, there is no indication that tiger poaching has decreased dramatically since the early 1990s.
Human Wildlife Conflict
Tiger dispersal in search of their territory, as well as habitat deterioration, pulls tigers out of protected regions and into human-occupied areas, where they are more likely to encounter humans. Human-tiger conflict is a severe problem in Sumatra, as it is in other regions of the tiger’s habitat. Tigers have killed or injured people, and livestock has been stolen. Tigers may be killed as a result of villagers’ retaliation.
Clearing for agriculture (especially oil palm), plantations, and habitation has severely impacted the Sumatran tiger’s habitat. Illegal timber harvesting and forest conversion are out of control in several regions of the island. The island’s forest cover decreased from 58 percent to 26 percent between 1985 and 2014. Even protected locations are not immune to difficulties. Furthermore, forest conversion has separated national parks, as well as populations of species like tigers that require extensive territories for nesting, feeding, and dispersal.