Indonesian Villagers kill a Tiger
Sumatran tigers are the world's smallest living tiger species. Photo Credit: Public Domain Pictures
The tiger had been lurking in nearby forests and locals in the village of Mandailing Natal in North Sumatra took it to be an evil spirit. Intrigued by the animal, the villagers gathered for a look-see one day. In response, the tiger attacked them, seriously injuring two villagers.
So the villagers hunted the striped predator down and killed it despite pleas by conservationists not to harm the big cat. The locals then proceeded to disembowel the animal and string his carcass up for show.
“Unfortunately they would not listen (to us). They insisted on killing the tiger,” the head of a local conservation agency was quoted as saying. “After killing the animal, the locals hung up its body for display. It’s very regrettable.”
Regrettable indeed. With only around 400 Sumatran tigers (Panthera tigris sumatrae) left in the wild on the island of Sumatra, losing even one of them like this is a tragedy. Ironically, the villagers killed the tiger just as the United Nations has called on people around the planet to protect beleaguered big cat populations.
It does not help that many locals in Indonesia, as well as parts of Malaysia, continue to view tigers not just with awe but with superstitious avarice. It’s illegal to hunt tigers in Indonesia and anyone caught doing so faces the prospects of a prison term and a steep fine. Yet many locals continue to try to kill tigers as well as traffic in their parts, to which they attribute magical healing properties. “Sumatran tigers are losing their habitat and prey fast, and poaching shows no sign of decline,” notes the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
Each Sumatran tiger requires around 300 square kilometers of roaming ground to hunt for prey, yet they have less and less forest which they can truly call home. Most of local forests have been thinned or cut down for timber and to make way for palm oil plantations. “[S]aving tigers also means saving their large habitat,” says an Indonesian tiger specialist working with WWF. “It’s important because forests also serve as water catchment areas for humans.”
It’s also important to educate locals about wildlife so that they will be less likely to kill critically endangered species like tigers with wanton disregard for the health of local wildlife populations.