A Talk on the Wild Side.
Sumatran tiger. Photo by Steve Wilson/Creative Commons license
How Americans Like You Have Helped Make This Project Possible
Projects such as this one would not be possible without the funding generated from proceeds of sales of the “Save Vanishing Species Stamp,” also known as the “Tiger Stamp.” Through programs administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Tiger Stamps have helped fund projects that benefit tigers, sea turtles, great apes, rhinos and elephants in 33 countries. Since 2011, purchases of stamps have generated more than $4.6 million in funding for international conservation projects. Learn more and purchase Tiger Stamps from the U.S. Postal Service. Thank you for your support!
A tiger cub cries out in pain. Its paw is trapped in a poacher’s snare made of bicycle parts, motorcycle clutches and loose metal wires. As it struggles, the loop tightens and the cub is faced with one of three futures: It will be rescued, it will tear itself from the trap, or a poacher will traffic the cub for its parts or as a pet. In each of these scenarios, the cub might suffer physical damages ranging from the loss of a limb to its death.
The cub is a Sumatran tiger, the last remaining subspecies of tiger in Indonesia. Two other tiger subspecies, the Javan tiger and the Bali tiger, used to be prevalent in Indonesia, but both were extinct by the mid-1970s. Now, the Sumatran tiger is the only remaining Indonesian tiger species. Classified as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List™, fewer than 500 Sumatran tigers are estimated to remain in the wild – down from 1,000 in the late 1970s.
Where there’s a need, there’s a way
Sumatran tiger populations are threatened by poaching to meet a demand for their parts, such as the skins, and as exotic pets in wealthy homes or zoos where they are used as a symbol of status. Poachers will put out snares to catch the tigers because snares are easy to make and set up. The number of snares hidden throughout the areas known to be frequented by wildlife is increasing, which is dangerous for both tigers and other animals that can become entangled in the potentially lethal traps. According to UNESCO, the number of snares found in one of Indonesia’s protected areas doubled between 2006 and 2014, and these numbers are predicted to grow.
Although efforts exist to combat poaching, to date few resources have been available for medical facilities that help care for injured tigers. One reason is that medicine for recovering tigers, such as antibiotics and painkillers, is often expensive. It can also be hard to find people with the technical skills to care for injured tigers. Additionally, the few clinics that have experience with treating tigers tend to be located far away from the rescue sites.
Construction of the tiger clinic facility begins. Photo by ASTI
The Animal Sanctuary Trust Indonesia (ASTI) is helping to fill this gap in medical resources by funding the construction of a treatment and rehabilitation center for Sumatran tigers that are confiscated or rescued from poachers in Kerinci Seblat National Park in Bengkulu, Indonesia. A grant of $68,853 from Tiger Stamp proceeds went to ASTI for construction.
Although the park contains good habitat for tigers, the nearest veterinary facility to the park is located on a different island. Once completed, ASTI’s project will decrease the need to transport injured tigers over long distances.
Although the project is still underway, an artist sketched how the structure is predicted to look when completed in 2018. The building will have two central entrances, one for humans and one for tigers. Photo by ASTI
Construction began in 2017 and the expected completion date for the facility is set for this September. The facility will be painted and equipped with modern medical equipment. In addition to tigers, other felids will also be able to receive treatment at this facility. In the future ASTI has plans to establish a mobile tiger clinic. It’s not all that’s needed to protect Indonesia’s Sumatran tigers, but it’s a key step in making sure that they will thrive for generations to come. And it will help tiger cubs injured in traps.
By Deborah Kornblut, an intern with the International Affairs Program