|Sumatran tiger in the Tierpark Berlin|
P. t. sondaica
|Distribution of the Sumatran tiger|
The Sumatran tiger is a population of
Felis tigris sondaicus was the
Panthera tigris sumatrae was proposed by Reginald Innes Pocock in 1929, who described a skin and a skull of a tiger zoological specimen from Sumatra. The skull and pelage pattern of tiger specimens from Java and Sumatra do not differ significantly. P. t. sondaica is therefore considered the valid name for the living and extinct tiger populations in Indonesia.
Analysis of DNA is consistent with the hypothesis that Sumatran tigers became isolated from other tiger populations after a rise in sea level that occurred at the Pleistocene to Holocene border about 12,000–6,000 years ago. In agreement with this evolutionary history, the Sumatran tiger is genetically isolated from all living mainland tigers, which form a distinct group closely related to each other. The isolation of the Sumatran tiger from mainland tiger populations is supported by multiple unique characters, including two diagnostic mitochondrial DNA nucleotide sites, ten mitochondrial DNA haplotypes and 11 out of 108 unique microsatellite alleles. The relatively high genetic variability and the phylogenetic distinctiveness of the Sumatran tiger indicates that the gene flow between island and mainland populations was highly restricted.
The Sumatran tiger was described based on two zoological specimens that differed in skull size and striping pattern from Bengal and Javan tiger specimens. It is darker in fur colour and has broader stripes than the Javan tiger. Stripes tend to dissolve into spots near their ends, and on the back, flanks and hind legs are lines of small, dark spots between the regular stripes. The frequency of stripes is higher than in other subspecies. Males have a prominent ruff, which is especially marked in the Sumatran tiger.
The Sumatran tiger is one of the smallest tigers. Males measure between the pegs 2.2 to 2.55 m (7 ft 3 in to 8 ft 4 in) in head-to-body length, with the greatest skull length of 295 to 335 mm (11.6 to 13.2 in) and weigh 100 to 140 kg (220 to 310 lb). Females weigh 75 to 110 kg (165 to 243 lb) and measure 2.15 to 2.30 m (7 ft 1 in to 7 ft 7 in) in length between the pegs with a greatest length of skull of 263 to 294 mm (10.4 to 11.6 in).
Distribution and habitat
The Sumatran tiger persists in small and fragmented populations across Sumatra, from
Sumatran tigers prefer lowland and hill forests, where up to three tigers live in an area of 100 km2 (39 sq mi). They use non-forest habitats and human-dominated landscapes at the fringes of protected areas to a lesser degree.
In 1978, the Sumatran tiger population was estimated at 1,000 individuals, based on responses to a questionnaire survey. In 1985, a total of 26 protected areas across Sumatra containing about 800 tigers were identified. In 1992, an estimated 400–500 tigers lived in five Sumatran national parks and two protected areas. At that time, the largest population unit comprised 110–180 individuals in Gunung Leuser National Park. As of 2011, the tiger population in Kerinci Seblat National Park in central Sumatra comprised 165–190 individuals, which is more than anywhere else on the island. The park has the highest tiger occupancy rate of Sumatra's protected areas, with 83% of the park showing signs of tigers.
Sumatra's total tiger population was estimated at 618 ± 290 individuals in 2017.
Ecology and behaviour
Sumatran tigers strongly prefer uncultivated forests and make little use of
In the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, nine prey species larger than 1 kg (2.2 lb) of body weight were identified including
Major threats include habitat loss due to expansion of palm oil plantations and planting of acacia plantations, prey-base depletion, and illegal trade primarily for the domestic market.
Tigers need large contiguous forest blocks to thrive.
Sumatra's largest tiger population in Kerinci Seblat National Park is threatened by a high rate of deforestation in its outer regions. Drivers are an unsustainable demand for natural resources created by a human population with the highest rate of growth in Indonesia, and a government initiative to increase tree-crop plantations and high-intensity commercial logging, which ultimately leads to forest fires. The majority of the tigers found in the park were relocated to its center where conservation efforts are focused, but issues in the lowland hill forests of the outskirts remain. While being a highly suitable tiger habitat, these areas are also heavily targeted by logging efforts, which substantially contributes to declines in local tiger numbers.
The expansion of plantations is increasing
In 1997, an estimated 53 tigers were killed by
In 2013–2014, Kerinci Seblat National Park experienced an upsurge in poaching, with the highest annual number of
Panthera tigris is listed on
In 1994, the Indonesian Sumatran Tiger Conservation Strategy addressed the potential crisis that tigers faced in Sumatra. The Sumatran Tiger Project (STP) was initiated in June 1995 in and around the Way Kambas National Park to ensure the long-term viability of wild Sumatran tigers and to accumulate data on tiger life-history characteristics vital for the management of wild populations. By August 1999, the teams of the STP had evaluated 52 sites of potential tiger habitat in Lampung Province, of which only 15 were intact enough to contain tigers. In the framework of the STP, a community-based conservation programme was initiated to document the tiger-human dimension in the park to enable conservation authorities to resolve tiger-human conflicts based on a comprehensive database rather than anecdotes and opinions.
In 2007, the
Between 2005 and 2015, about US$210 million have been invested into tiger law-enforcement activities that support forest ranger patrols, as well as the implementations of front-line law-enforcement activities by the Global Tiger Recovery Plan, which aims to double the number of wild tigers by 2020. In November 2016, Batu Nanggar Sanctuary was opened in North Padang Lawas Regency, North Sumatra for conservation of Sumatran wildlife.
An interview survey among 600 consumers revealed that most were willing to pay consistently more for a "tiger-friendly" produced good if this product would be conducive to Sumatran tiger conservation.
As of 2013, about 375 captive Sumatran tigers were listed in the global
- Prehistoric tigers: Panthera tigris soloensis
- Panthera tigris trinilensis
- Panthera tigris acutidens
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- Overweight captive Sumatran tiger (338 lb (153 kg)) at the National Zoological Park (United States)
- Indonesia races to catch tiger alive as villagers threaten to ‘kill the beast’