(Photo file) – A police officer shows the bodies of Sumatran tiger cubs as evidence in an animal traficking case in Medan, Indonesia. Photo By Chalid Nasution
The original habitat of the Sumatran tiger (Panthere Tigris sumatrae) spread throughout the province in the island of Sumatra, Indonesia. Starting from the province of Aceh to Jambi, Sumatran tigers often explore as far as 100km. This nocturnal hunter and solitaire is the only tiger sub-species of Panthera tigris that ever lived in Indonesia. Java and Bali tigers tsere declared extinct in the 1970s and 1950s. These remarkable animals are central to the myth of ethnic cultures in Indonesia.
Let us take an example from the remaining subspecies, the Sumatran tiger. In areas of Sumatran tigers roaming, there are settlements or fields from various tribes. In North Sumatra, there are Batak tribes who inhabit the mountains of the Bukit Barisan, Sumatra where tigers live. Batak tribe called the tiger as “Opung” or grandfather. Similarly, in West Sumatra and Jambi, they call the Sumatran tiger with a “Datuk” or the name for someone who is respected.
In ancient times, according to a story from the parents, if the tigers roared from the forest that means there will be a disaster. Therefore, the Sumatran Tiger is associated with the mystical and magical events for people on the island of Sumatra. In the Southeast Aceh Regency, Aceh province there should be a tiger handler in each village at the foot of Gunung Leuser. Believe it or not, the handler was able to summon tigers from the jungle to go down to the village by burning incense and chanting mantras. For many tribes in Sumatra, Sumatran tigers were a highly respected presence in the days of yore.
A few myths about the Sumatran tiger, of its elegance and stature of the Unseen does not keep pace with his present condition. The numbers in the habitat decreases drastically due to deforestation and poaching. No one institution has dared to set a guesstimate on the number of Sumatran tigers left in their habitat, but the figures come in at about 300-400 remaining in the wild. There were over 1,000 in the ’70s.
One tidbit about the existence of the Sumatran Tiger came two months ago from “World Wild Fund”. The trap camera they managed has recorded at least 12 tigers in the western part of Bukit Tigapuluh forest in Indragiri Hulu regency of Riau Province and Tebo District of Jambi Province.
A week ago, a Sumatran tigers roamed the surrounding residential area, especially in the village of Nine Rivers, Dumai, Riau province. In this area, the tiger was called “Atok Belang” or the stripes grandfather. In Riau province, area of forest where tigers live it has changed into plantations. Largely converted into oil palm plantations.
Sumatran tiger poaching to be another cause of the decreasing availability of this sub-species of tiger. Traders of wild animals in Medan said that almost all parts of the Sumatran tiger could be sold, the most expensive is the skin. A sheet of Sumatran tiger skin is worth 25 million rupiah, or about USD 2500.