The population of Sumatran Tiger has declined to as few as 400 animals, largely due to illegal hunting and trade. The trade in Tiger parts (particularly bones) and derivative products appears to have increased over the last decade. However, detailed knowledge of the trade dynamics in Sumatra remains scarce, making enforcement of current laws and conservation strategies considerably more difficult.
To accomplish a long-term goal of eliminating the trade in tigers and tiger parts, a thorough examination of the workings of the trade itself is needed to map out a series of integrated responses in an informed manner. TRAFFIC Southeast Asia (T-SEA), set out to examine this trade and to accomplish the following objectives:
To collect and compile information on the dynamics of the trade in tigers in Sumatra, Indonesia.
To build upon the current information regarding the status of existing Sumatran tiger populations and to identify priority areas for increased enforcement efforts.
To publish a report of the findings of this study.
To compile intelligence on the trade to assist enforcement agencies in their efforts to halt the trade in tigers and tiger parts.
With the exception of a few constraints, progress towards accomplishing the objectives of this project has been positive. Key partner organizations working on tigers or related issues in Sumatra have been identified and contacted as sources of information and collaboration.
A number of individuals from within these organizations have offered to share their information with T-SEA, thus enabling wider assessment of the current situation. Literature research has also been conducted by T-SEA, and this information is being compiled along with data collected from primary field surveys being carried out by T-SEA.
Surveys have been carried out in the province of North Sumatra, which appears to be the hub of the trade, as it has a large population of consumers of wildlife and is also the main entry and exit point for Sumatra. Interviews have been conducted with people involved in the trade, from hunters to dealers and a large volume of information has been collected for subsequent analysis.
Surveys have also been carried out in parts of Riau and Aceh provinces, as well as, by partner organizations, in South Sumatra and West Sumatra. A strong connection between the human-tiger conflict issues in Sumatra and the illegal trade in tigers has become apparent.
In addition, with the massive scale of logging and other forms of habitat loss in Sumatra, it is not surprising that these factors also appear to have a strong impact on the trade. Efforts are being taken to gather more information on these aspects.
A consultant from the northern province of Aceh has been contracted and surveys on the eastern side of this province are to commence in August 2002. The remainder of this province still remains off limits.
Furthermore, it is noteworthy that the government agencies responsible for protecting tigers and compiling information on tigers in Sumatra have been very cooperative and have assisted in gathering much information for this project.