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Save the Species: Sumatran Tigers

Earth was created to allow humans and animals to live harmoniously. Not only do we have a duty to protect the earth as an environment, but we also must protect wildlife. Humans are powerful creatures with a remarkable ability to create change. We are the voice for the animals we live amongst. Sometimes that power lands in the wrong hands, and the results are destructive and damaging on many levels. Many people think those who abuse power are government officials, superstars, rich people, and those who don’t care about others. That is all true, but did we ever think that the same abuse of power could be used to destroy our planet, including the magnificent animals that live amongst us? 

Tigers are fierce, powerful, strong, and mighty creatures that roam the earth. The beautiful orange or white with black stripes is a sight you can’t miss. The abundance of fur that looks like velvet with specific unique patterns is mesmerizing. The immense beauty sometimes feels like a fairytale. The truth is they are suffering, but we don’t see it. 

Parts of Asia including Thailand, India, and Indonesia are where wild tigers roam free. In addition, some prefer colder temperatures, so they reside in Russia. Tropical forests are the most popular habitat tigers live in, but they can also live in cold forests. 

According to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), compared to the land they once occupied, tigers occupy less than 6% of that land today. 


A critically endangered subspecies residing in Sumatra, there are approximately 400-500 Sumatran tigers left in the wild. Apart from habitat destruction and fatal interactions with humans, poaching is one of the main reasons the population is decreasing rapidly. As part of the illegal wildlife trade, these tigers are hunted for their whiskers, teeth, claws, and bones. Poachers continue seeking ways to illegally kill Sumatran tigers despite the conservation efforts and habitat protection in place.

The increase in urbanization and agricultural production is contributing to habitat loss. The land the tigers once called home is increasingly being populated with people. As a result, dispersion of the population occurs making breeding difficult. 

With less prey available due to habitat loss, Sumatran tigers begin moving toward farmlands. They prey on livestock instead because of the lack of food. Unfortunately, the consequences can be fatal for the tigers. 

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is a global organization that participates in several conservation projects directed to save vulnerable species in the wild. In Indonesia, the WCS has outlined strategies to increase the Sumatran tiger population. Working with the Indonesian government, law enforcement officials, and the Ministry of Forestry will aid in protecting Sumatran tiger habitats and preventing Sumatran residents from approaching and occupying that land. To reduce conflict between humans and Sumatran tigers, efforts have been made to create “tiger-proof livestock enclosures” and educate residents about safety procedures and managing their livestock. Finding ways to monitor populations over time is necessary to track progress. Providing support to law enforcement to reduce the illegal wildlife trade, enforcing laws, and ensuring those laws are known and adhered to will help protect the lives of Sumatran tigers.

Edited by: Whitney Eda Ibe

Photo by: Akron Zoo

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