Deforestation threatens tigers – WWF

Jakarta – Conservation group WWF has urged companies to drop plans to clear Indonesian forest areas where infrared cameras have captured footage of rare Sumatran tigers and their cubs.

The video recorded in March and April shows two mothers with four cubs and another six of the critically endangered big cats in the Bukit Tigapuluh wildlife reserve in eastern Sumatra.

“That was the highest number of tigers and tiger images obtained… we’ve ever experienced,” WWF tiger researcher Karmila Parakkasi said in a statement.

The 12 tigers are concentrated in locations with good forest cover, which includes natural forest inside a land concession belonging to Barito Pacific Timber, wood supplier to regional giant Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), the statement added.

Deforestation

“This video confirms the extreme importance of these forests in the Bukit Tigapuluh ecosystem and its wildlife corridor,” the WWF’s forest and species programme director Anwar Purwoto said.

“WWF calls for all concessions operating in this area to abandon plans to clear this forest and protect areas with high conservation value,” he added.

“We also urge the local, provincial and central government to take into consideration the importance of this corridor and manage it as part of Indonesia’s commitments to protecting biodiversity,” he said.

There are fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild. Environmental activists say the animals are increasingly coming into contact with people as a result of their natural habitat being lost due to deforestation for timber and palm oil plantations.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has been under pressure from environmentalists to implement a promised two-year moratorium on the clearing of natural forest and peat land, which was due to begin on January 1.

Norway agreed in May 2010 to contribute up to $1bn to help preserve Indonesia’s forests, in part through the moratorium.

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