Green - Palm Oil Deforestation Decimates Sumatran Tiger
Rampant deforestation for activities such as palm oil production has reduced the Sumatran Tiger's habitat to the point that there are only two viable populations left.
There were 618 of the animals in the wild in 2012, which is down 16 percent from the year 2000. But the paper published in Nature Communications says land clearing has fragmented the remaining population of the critically endangered cats into smaller, isolated groups that are unlikely to survive. Only two of those groups have more than 30 breeding females, necessary for carrying on the population.
"There are two forests that are still large enough to independently sustain tigers over the long and medium terms," said Dr. Matthew Luskin with the University of California at Berkeley. "It's important to get those deforestation rates down and get those parks secured because (they are) the last strongholds," he added.
But Indonesia is intent on developing the area and exploiting its assets.
"Indonesia is investing heavily in putting in big (roads) through the major islands," said tropical ecologist Dr. Mason Campbell of James Cook University, as quoted by the ABC. "These roads go in there and usually straight behind them, the first people in are the poachers - they clean out the tigers and elephants and anything else that may be of value."
By that time, big companies and local officials are intent on reaping the financial gain. "Once it's a production area it's a bit of a free-for-all for palm oil companies," said Dr. Campbell.