There are less than 400 Sumatran tigers remaining in the wild. The smallest tiger subspecies, the Sumatran tigers, who live on the Idonesian island of Sumatra, are considered critically endangered, as their numbers continue to take a dive due to poaching, violent contact with humans and deforestation to produce palm oil or paper. Which makes the fact that World Wildlife Fund video cameras have recently caught footage of 12 of them roaming an Indonesian forest all the more amazing. Even more encouraging is that some of the video’s stars are young tiger cubs. To add to the “wow” factor – the cameras have only been operational for three months.
“What’s unclear is whether we found so many tigers because we’re getting better at locating our cameras or because the tigers’ habitat is shrinking so rapidly here that they are being forced into sharing smaller and smaller bits of forests,” Karmila Parakkasi, the head of the WWF’s tiger research team in Sumatra, told The Associated Press.
Which brings the clouds into this silver lining of a story – the tigers have been spotted in land that is targeted to be demolished by loggers. The land is owned by Indonesian paper company Barito Timber Pacific.
“As soon as pending permits are granted by the government, the company could clear the forest to supply the wood to Asia Pulp & Paper of Sinar Mas Group,” explained the WWF.
Sinar Mas’ past deforestation efforts have brought the company into the cross hairs of environmentalists, and has led to companies like Burger King and Nestle to discontinue buying palm oil from them. Considering both the Java tiger and the Bali tiger have gone extinct over the past half a century, here’s hoping the environmentalists win this battle and Sumatran tigers caught on video tape will stop being a rare find.