We reported last month that the entire population of tigers in the Panna Tiger Reserve in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh has been completely decimated by poachers. But now, the good guys have some points on the board.
On August 13, the Wildlife Conservation Society announced two successful raids, and numerous arrests by Indonesian authorities, of suspects attempting to sell Sumatran tiger skins. (ADVENTURE's Paul Kvinta investigated this despicable practice in June/July's "Cat Fight.") The raids occurred on July 16th and August 7th and resulted in the recovery of two complete tiger skins, as well as 33 pieces of tiger skin ranging in size from 33 centimeters to much larger. In total, Indonesian police arrested five wildlife traders associated with the poaching of the tigers.
The raids were conducted by the Indonesian Department of Forestry, police, the Directorate for Forest Protection and Nature Conservation, as well as the Wildlife Conservation Society's Wildlife Crime Unit. Authorities have recently stepped up efforts to stop the illegal poaching of Sumatran tigers. The increased effort has resulted in the arrest of over 20 poachers in the past 18 months.
The Sumatran Tiger, a distinct subspecies of tiger now only found on the island of Sumatra, used to be common in the islands of Indonesia. In the past, healthy populations of the species also lived in small groups on Bali and Java, in the once-dense tropical rainforests that now just spot the islands. Today, the Sumatran Tiger population has dwindled down to between 400 and 500 animals, most of whom live in or near Sumatraуs national parks. Although at the verge of extinction, their bones, teeth and skin continue to draw large amounts of money from sellers in the East Asian wildlife black market.—Annie Hay