Saturday, 11 December 2010
Research reveals Sumatran tiger population higher than expected
JAKARTA (Kyodo) -- New research has revealed that the population of Sumatran tigers on Indonesia's Sumatra island is higher than believed, with the island now thought to be home to the second largest tiger population in the world, according to a report published this week.
The research, carried out by the Indonesian Program of the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society and Indonesian nongovernmental organization Forum HarimauKita, was published in a special issue of Integrative Zoology, a journal on tiger conservation and research methodologies.
Scientists involved in the research created the highest resolution map of Sumatran tiger distribution ever produced and found out that tigers still occupy a large majority of the remaining available habitat on Sumatra.
According to the research, of the 144,160 square kilometers of the remaining potential habitat, Sumatran tigers are present in over 97 percent. However, only 29 percent of the habitat found to contain tigers is protected.
"These findings imply that the Sumatran tiger population might be much larger than we believed, and could potentially be the second largest tiger population in the world after India," Hariyo Wibisono, chairman of Forum HarimauKita, said in a press statement.
The research also revealed that tigers occupy a great diversity of ecosystems. They were found at elevations ranging from sea level in coastal lowland forests to 3,200 meters in high mountain forests and in every eco-region in between.
"There is a need for further scientific population assessment," Wibisono said.
"But if the population is indeed as large as this new survey suggests, then real actions and more support from tiger experts and the international community should be mobilized in the conservation of Sumatran tigers," he added.
Based on the findings, the scientists have recommended that at least five habitats on Sumatra be reassessed as Tiger Conservation Landscapes.
A TCL is an area where there is sufficient habitat for at least five tigers and in which tigers have been confirmed to be present for the last 10 years.
Conservationists say the world's tiger population has declined by 50 percent since 1998, and only between 3,200 and 3,600 remain in the wild.
Last month, during the International Tiger Conservation Forum in St. Petersburg, Russia, the governments of the 13 tiger range countries agreed to double tiger numbers by 2022.
(Mainichi Japan) December 9, 2010