WASHINGTON, DC, May 8, 2011 – World Wildlife Fund (WWF) today released rare video footage of three Sumatran tiger cubs playfully chasing leaves in the forests of the Bukit Tigapuluh landscape in Indonesia. Over the span of just two months, video and camera traps recorded images of 12 tigers – including two mothers with cubs – in an area of 184 square miles, a significant concentration in Sumatra. There are estimated to be only around 400 of the critically endangered Sumatran tigers left in the wild.
The tigers in the videos were filmed in the forests of the Bukit Tigapuluh landscape, or “Thirty Hills.” This landscape is designated a “global priority Tiger Conservation Landscape,” and is one of six landscapes the government of Indonesia pledged to protect at last November’s tiger summit of world leaders in Russia. Home to more than 30 tigers, 150 Sumatran elephants and 130 orangutans, the Bukit Tigapuluh landscape is under imminent threat of being cleared by the pulp and paper industry.
“It’s really great to see that tigers are continuing to breed in the Bukit Tigapuluh landscape,” said Dr. Barney Long, Manager of the WWF-US Tiger Program. “This is a critical landscape for tiger conservation, and one that is rapidly being cleared by companies to produce pulp and paper. We need to protect this forest landscape and the corridor that connects it to other tiger populations in order to save these magnificent animals, as well as the many services that the forests provide for the indigenous communities that call it home.”
The areas of the central Sumatran forests where these tigers are concentrated are also prime targets for pulp and paper companies like Barito Pacific Group and Asia Pulp & Paper/Sinar Mas Group (APP/SMG). Both companies have permits pending to clear the forest. Prominent conservation, animal welfare and human rights groups, including WWF, have urged the two companies and the Indonesian government to protect these forests instead of allowing them to be cleared.
“WWF calls for all concessions operating in this landscape to abandon plans to clear the forest, and to protect areas with high conservation value,” said Anwar Purwoto, Director of WWF-Indonesia’s Forest and Species Program. “We also urge the local, provincial and central governments to take into consideration the importance of this corridor and manage it as part of Indonesia’s commitments to protecting biodiversity.”
A report by WWF and partner NGOs from December 2010 revealed that between 2004 and 2010, Bukit Tigapuluh landscape lost more than 500,000 acres of forest to the pulp and paper and palm oil industries. A large amount of the deforestation took place within concessions of APP/SMG, as well as along the logging corridors built to transport the wood to pulp mills. A significant amount of clearing was also reported in concessions of another company, Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL).
“We urge companies and consumers in the U.S. to ensure that any paper products that they buy do not contribute to the destruction of Sumatran tiger habitat,” said Linda Kramme, Manager of WWF’s Global Forest & Trade Network-North America.
One way to avoid such impacts is to buy Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper. WWF is working with Indonesian pulp and paper producers willing to adopt better practices to bring more options to the marketplace, like paper from responsibly managed plantations on already-degraded lands rather than on areas converted from natural forests.
The Sumatran tiger and the other five surviving tiger subspecies – the Amur, Malayan, Bengal, Indochinese and South China – number as few as 3,200 in the wild. WWF is working closely with Indonesia and other tiger range countries to build the political, financial and public support to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger.