OPERATION "TRAP SWEEP" AIMS AT HELPING SAVE SUMATRAN TIGERS by Fardah
Jakarta, July 21, 2013 (Antara) - Indonesian people usually spend more on
food and clothing during Islamic fasting month of Ramadan and Idul Fitri
festivities than in the other months, prompting some people to make
more money by any means, including by poaching Sumatran tigers.
"Poaching activities of animals such as deers and even Sumatra tigers
in Sumatra tend to increase during the fasting month," Moehd Subchan,
the coordinator of The Sumatra Tiger Preservation Program (PHS) for
Jambi Province, said in Jambi, last June 2013.
The increasing poaching activities have been driven by the economic
factor because during Ramadan the demands for meat and other goods are
quite high, he said.
To deal with the poaching activities, which usually use traps to get
endangered Sumatra tigers, the Sumatra Tiger Preservation program team
has routinely organized Operation "Trap Sweep" prior and during the
fasting month since 2000.
This year, the Operation "Trap Sweep" is being carried out from June to
July in Sumatra, by the PHS in cooperation with the Kerinci Seblat
National Park (TNKS) office, the forestry ministry and the International
Flora and Fauna foundation.
Six patrol units consisting of three units in Jambi and the other
threes in Bengkulu, have been deployed during the operation which
focuses on forest patrol, Sumatra tiger conflict handling, and
investigation concerning animal-related crimes.
In June alone, the team managed to find 16 traps intended to capture
Sumatran tigers (Panthera tigris sumatrae) in the TNKS which is a home
of around 145 to 165 tigers. Up to July 11, 2013, 30 traps
were found by the team in three different locations in the Kerinci
Seblat National Park, including 13 in Kerinci (Jambi), three in
Muko-muko (Bengkulu), and 16 units in Pesisir Selatan of West Sumatra.
During last year's Operation "Trap Sweep", the PHS team found around 100 traps intended to capture Sumatran tigers. "This
indicates demand has increased for the animal organs from black market
in the country or from abroad," Dian Risdianto, the field manager of the
TNKS patrol unit, said in Jambi on July 12, 2013.
Dian said the type of traps used are specially for tigers corroborating
suspicion that the perpetrators have received special orders for tiger
The type of traps is stronger and much more expensive than the types
used by ordinary hunters of other wildlife like boars, deers, monkeys or
birds, he said, adding "Those kinds of traps we have found this year
are all for tigers".
The authorities suspected the perpetrators planned to sell certain
organs of the wildlife in black market in the country and abroad, he
stated. He said cases of illegal trapping of Sumatra tigers
has tended to increase ahead and during Ramadan every year indicating
trading of tiger organs is more rampant during that period.
The officer hoped the annual Operation "Trap Sweep" to help slow down
the process of extinction of the endangered tigers.
"Tigers live individually or not in a group like lions and so they need
a vast forest to survive, while the TNKS is already Shrinking," he
He called on the managers of National Parks in Sumatra to carry out
regular patrol against illegal trapping or trade of wildlife.
"We have recommended to all managers of national parks and forestry
offices in Sumatra to launch regular patrol to preserve the country's
wildlife especially Sumatran tigers," he said.
He warned that the population of the famous Sumatran tiger has
continued to decline and would face extinction, therefore the government
must seriously address the problem.
"We also call on the central government especially the forestry
ministry to act more firmly by immediately imposing regulation based on
the law on conversion of the environment and ecosystem to
protect wildlife," he said.
Sumatran tigers, the smallest of all tigers, are a critically
endangered species only found on Sumatra Island, Indonesia's second
The exact number of tigers left in the wild is uncertain but latest
estimates range from under 300 to possibly 500 in 27 locations,
including in the Kerinci Seblat National Park, the Tesso Nilo Park, and
the Gunung Leuser National Park.
Sumatran tigers are on the brink of extinction because of deforestation, poaching and clashes with people.
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), their numbers have dwindled
from about 1,000 in the 1970s. The biggest threat to conservation is
conflict with humans, according to the 2009 report by the forestry
ministry. On average, five to 10 Sumatran tigers have been killed every
year since 1998, the report said.
A study published in the journal Oryx recently reported that the
critically endangered Sumatran tiger may be even rarer than previously
According to researchers from Virginia Tech and WWF, the number of
existing Sumatran tigers is much lower than the current estimate. Their
study showed that a high level of human activity in this region has led
to a decline in the tiger population.
Researchers from Virginia Tech and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) used
camera traps to estimate population density in previously unsurveyed
areas, including peatlands.
They found that tiger density may be only half what was estimated
previously. In some areas, tiger density may be as low as one tiger per
40 square miles. The study found that human activity seems to limit
"We believe the low detection of tigers in the study area of central
Sumatra was a result of the high level of human activity -
farming, hunting, trapping, and gathering of forest products," said
study lead author Sunarto of World Wildlife Fund-Indonesia.
Getting evidence of the tigers' presence was difficult and it took an
average of 590 days for camera traps to get an image of each individual
tiger recorded, according to Kelly, one of the researchers, as reported
on Science Daily online.
Indonesia have already lost two sub-species of tigers to extinction,
namely the Bali tiger which went extinct in 1937 and the Javan tiger in
Recently, there was an very interesting story, not about men trapped
tigers, but on the other way around. Apparently in revenge to what men
have done to them, to be exactly to their cub, several Sumatra tigers
trapped five men up a tree in Gunung Leuser national park on northern
Sumatra Island, after mauling a sixth person to death.
The men had gone to the jungle to gather rare agarwood in Mount Leuser
National Park, for incense and perfume, when one of their traps, set to
catch deer for their dinner, caught a tiger cub instead.
The injured kitten apparently attracted adult tigers the way a fallen
toddler attracts moms at a playground. The adult tigers chased the
unintentional trappers up trees. One of the six men reportedly fell out
of his tree and was, tragically, mauled to death.
The survivors alerted nearby villagers using mobile phones. It could
take rescue crews up to three days before they find the men in the
Gunung Leuser jungle.
Villagers had tried to rescue the men few days later but retreated when
they saw seven large Sumatran tigers circling around the base of the
On July 8, 2013, the five men were finally saved by a team of rescue
workers, police, and trained animal handlers, after being trapped on the
tree for five days. ***4*** (f001/b003/B003)