A WWF camera trap set up in an Indonesian national park has photographed an endangered Sumatran tiger that appears to have escaped from a snare.
Photos captured by WWF's camera trap inside Tesso Nilo National Park in central Sumatra show a male tiger missing the lower half of his right front leg.
WWF staff suspect this tiger is the same individual reported caught in a snare in November 2006, which they believe scratched or cut his paw off, to escape.
The tiger appears to be in good physical condition.
Endangered with extinction
The Sumatran tiger is the most critically endangered tiger subspecies in the world, with fewer than 400 individuals left in the wild. They are only found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, where they have been relentlessly hunted for the black market and where their habitat is rapidly being lost to agricultural and logging operations.
Snares are an added threat. Some are set specifically by poachers to catch tigers, while most are designed to catch other species as bushmeat for local villagers or as a means of pest control.
“It’s particularly upsetting that this happened inside a national park, where tigers are supposed to enjoy protection," said WWF tiger biologist Sunarto.
"This tiger looks like he’s in good condition in our photos, but his future is uncertain. The Sumatran tiger population is at such low levels, we can’t afford to lose even one individual to a snare.”
WWF is working with wildlife authorities in Sumatra to increase awareness of tiger conservation, including urging people to stop using snares and educating them on potential risks of such practices.
Since 2005, WWF and local anti-poaching teams have confiscated at least 101 snares, 75 of them inside the protected areas of Tesso Nilo National Park and Rimbang Baling Wildlife Reserve. Of the 101 snares, 23 were identified as specifically targeting tigers; the rest for wild boar, sambar deer and sunbears.
WWF camera traps shows that Tesso Nilo is a relatively good habitat for the Sumatran tiger, with a lot of natural prey available in the area. So far, research has identified at least five distinct individuals in the park, and two in a proposed park extension. A bigger population, with better-connected forest habitats, is indicated to be in the proposed extension of the park.
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