Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Human activities threaten Sumatran tiger population

Date:
June 26, 2013
Source:
Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)
Summary:
Wildlife researchers have found that tigers in central Sumatra live at very low densities, lower than previously believed.

Sumatran tigers are threatened with extinction; it is estimated that fewer than 400 currently survive in the wild.
Credit: ©naturepl.com/Edwin Giesbers/WWF-Canon

Sumatran tigers, found exclusively on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, are on the brink of extinction. By optimistic estimates, perhaps 400 individuals survive. But the exact the number and locations of the island's dwindling tiger population has been up for debate.

Virginia Tech and World Wildlife Fund researchers have found that tigers in central Sumatra live at very low densities, lower than previously believed, according to a study in the April 2013 issue of Oryx -- The International Journal of Conservation.

The findings by Sunarto, who earned his doctorate from Virginia Tech in 2011, and co-researchers Marcella Kelly, an associate professor of wildlife in the College of Natural Resources and Environment, and Erin Poor of East Lansing, Mich., a doctoral student studying wildlife science and geospatial environmental analysis in the college, suggest that high levels of human activity limit the tiger population.

Researchers studied areas and habitat types not previously surveyed, which could inform interventions needed to save the tiger.

"Tigers are not only threatened by habitat loss from deforestation and poaching; they are also very sensitive to human disturbance," said Sunarto, a native of Indonesia, where people typically have one name. "They cannot survive in areas without adequate understory, but they are also threatened in seemingly suitable forests when there is too much human activity."

The smallest surviving tiger subspecies, Sumatran tigers are extremely elusive and may live at densities as low as one cat per 40 square miles. This is the first study to compare the density of Sumatran tigers across various forest types, including the previously unstudied peat land. The research applied spatial estimation techniques to provide better accuracy of tiger density than previous studies.

Sunarto, a tiger and elephant specialist with World Wildlife Fund-Indonesia, collaborated on the paper with Kelly, Professor Emeritus Michael Vaughan, and Sybille Klenzendorf, managing director of WWF's Species Conservation Program, who earned her master's and doctoral degrees in wildlife science from Virginia Tech. The WWF field team collected data in partnership with the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry staff.

"Getting evidence of the tigers' presence was difficult," Kelly said. "It took an average of 590 days for camera traps to get an image of each individual tiger recorded."

"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," Sunarto said. "We found a low population of tigers in these areas, even when there was an abundance of prey animals."

Legal protection of an area, followed by intensive management, can reduce the level of human disturbance and facilitate the recovery of the habitat and as well as tiger numbers. The researchers documented a potentially stable tiger population in the study region's Tesso Nilo Park, where legal efforts are in place to discourage destructive human activities.

The study -- "Threatened predator on the equator: Multi-point abundance estimates of the tiger Panthera tigris in central Sumatra" -- indicates that more intensive monitoring and proactive management of tiger populations and their habitats are crucial or this tiger subspecies will soon follow the fate of its extinct Javan and Balinese relatives.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sunarto, Marcella J. Kelly, Sybille Klenzendorf, Michael R. Vaughan, Zulfahmi, M.B. Hutajulu, Karmila Parakkasi. Threatened predator on the equator: multi-point abundance estimates of the tiger Panthera tigris in central Sumatra. Oryx, 2013; 47 (02): 211 DOI: 10.1017/S0030605311001530

Cite This Page:

Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University). "Human activities threaten Sumatran tiger population." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130626183925.htm>.
Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University). (2013, June 26). Human activities threaten Sumatran tiger population. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130626183925.htm
Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University). "Human activities threaten Sumatran tiger population." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130626183925.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) — New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:  

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile iPhone Android Web
      Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins