Monday, 8 July 2013

Humans vs Tigers

I have been following an interesting news of a match of Humans vs Tigers. The eventual outcome was a draw: one man and a tiger cub killed on each side.

 The story is that six men from Simpang Kiri village in Aceh Tamiang district went to the Mount Leuser National Park on Sumatra Island for harvesting agarwood (used in incense and perfume). I am assuming that this was probably illegal since national parks does have restricted entry and harvesting this precious material is probably regulated. Nonetheless, they set traps to catch deer (again, I am unsure about whether this amounts to poaching) and caught a Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) cub instead (which eventually died). This action attracted 5-7 tigers in the vicinity who, quite notably, chased the men. The men climbed up some trees and hung on to dear life for five days, subsisting on rainwater. The tigers, equally persistent, remained at the base. One man was mauled to death when he fell down after a branch snapped. The others contacted nearby villagers via the cell phones. The villagers were helpless, but eventually "tamers" and the rescue team drove the tigers away.

 I could debate at length about whether the men deserved the plight they faced, but more interesting is the behaviour of the tigers. The Sumatran tiger is the smallest (75-140 kg - Prothero et al, 2012) and is critically endangered (Sunarto et al, 2013). It is endemic to, well, Sumatra and the population is around 350. The low numbers are due to deforestation and conversion of lands into acacia and oil palm plantations, fires, and poaching (O'Brien et al, 2003; Sunarto et al, 2012; Johnson, 2013) . This plight was recently highlighted by Sunarto et al, 2013, who calculated that numbers were much lower in the Riau province which was believed to have the highest concentration of tigers (Banerjee, 2012, state that the population had declined by 70%; from 640 in 1982, the numbers fell to 192 in 2007). In a previous paper, the same authors proved that tigers are not particularly fond of plantations and settlements, preferring large contiguous and undisturbed forests and higher altitudes. However, the authors also encourage using the plantations as "corridors, stepping stones, or mosaics of connectivity facilitating animal movement"- which, in my humble opinion, is a recipe for disaster for both tigers and humans.

Indeed, it is sad that a human life and a tiger life were lost. But it could have gone in a few different ways. Five other humans could have been killed. So could have 5-6 critically endangered tigers. We very seldom recognise how our lifestyle preferences (I too have found agarwood to be particularly heady) might be only aggravating human-animal conflict elsewhere...

 Image source:

References Kimberly Elizabeth Johnson (2013). Living Off the Fat of Another Land: Trans Fat Social Policy and Environmental Externalities Environmental Policy is Social Policy – Social Policy is Environmental Policy, 37-50 DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4614-6723-6_4  
Timothy G. O'Brien, Margaret F. Kinnaird, Hariyo T. Wibisono (2003). Crouching tigers, hidden prey: Sumatran tiger and prey populations in a tropical forest landscape Animal Conservation, 6, 131-139 DOI: 10.1017/S1367943003003172
Donald R. Prothero, Valerie J. Syverson, Kristina R. Raymond, Meena Madan, Sarah Molina, Ashley Fragomeni, Sylvana DeSantis, Anastasiya Sutyagina, Gina L. Gage, Size and shape stasis in late Pleistocene mammals and birds from Rancho La Brea during the Last Glacial–Interglacial cycle, Quaternary Science Reviews, Volume 56, 21 November 2012, Pages 1-10, ISSN 0277-3791,

Sunarto Sunarto, Marcella J. Kelly, Karmila Parakkasi, Sybille Klenzendorf, Eka Septayuda, & Harry Kurniawan (2012). Tigers Need Cover: Multi-Scale Occupancy Study of the Big Cat in Sumatran Forest and Plantation Landscapes PLoS One DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0030859  

S Sunarto, Marcella J. Kelly, Sybille Klenzendorf, Michael R. Vaughan, Zulfahmi, M.B. Hutajulu, & Karmila Parakkasi (2013). Threatened predator on the equator: multi-point abundance estimates of the tiger Panthera tigris in central Sumatra Oryx, 47 (2), 211-220 DOI: 10.1017/S0030605311001530


By using this blog, you signify your agreement to this disclaimer. Do not use this website if you do not agree to this disclaimer.

This blog is published by Sarah Stephen and Ruth Stephen, and reflects the personal views of the contributors, in their individual capacities as a concerned citizen of this planet. The term 'Ecoratorio', as well as every graphic, opinion, comment, and statement expressed in this blog are the exclusive property of the blog publishers and contributors (© 2009 - present), unless explicitly stated otherwise, and should not be disseminated without the written consent of the author(s). The views expressed in this blog are not necessarily representative of the views of any school, college, University, company, organisation, city, town, state, country, or church where the author(s) have studied, worked, worshipped, or lived, and is not sponsored or endorsed by them.

This blog and its contents does not receive any sponsorship, financial or otherwise, neither is it aimed at generating any money.

The matter on this blog has been prepared for informational purposes only, and the reader(s) should not solely rely upon this information for any purpose nor should he/she assume that this information applies to his/her specific situation. Furthermore, the matter on this blog may or may not reflect the current and future trends/developments, may or may not be general or specific, accordingly, information on this blog is not promised, or guaranteed, to be correct or complete. The publishers and author(s) explicitly disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken, or not taken, based on any, or all, the contents of this blog. Thus, the reader(s) is/are reading the posts and arriving at conclusions about the information, or about the author(s), or otherwise, at his/her own risk.

This blog may contain weblinks, which are provided solely for the reader(s) convenience. Such weblinks to another blog or website does not imply any relationship, affiliation, endorsement, responsibility, or approval of the linked resources or their contents (over which we have no control). Accessing these links will be at the reader(s)’s own risk.

The publishers and author(s) are not responsible for translation and interpretation of content. Occasionally, the blog might contain subjects which may be considered offensive from certain individuals’ points-of-view, and the author(s) refuses to accept any liability for any psychological, physical, and emotional reactions, short-term or long-term, which the posts might generate in the reader(s). However, each post in this blog is the individual opinion of the author(s) and is not intended to malign any city/town/village, state, country, continent, faith, religion, practice, ethnic group, club, organisation, company, or individual. Neither are the publishers and author(s) responsible for any statements bound to government, religious, or other laws from the reader(s)’s country of origin.

The publishers and author(s) reserves the right to update, edit, delete or otherwise remove, the posts or any comments, the latter of which might be deemed offensive or spam. The publishers and author(s) cannot warrant that the use of this blog will be uninterrupted or error-free, or that defects on this site will be corrected. The publishers and author(s) also reserves the right to publish in print media, in whole or part, any of the posts which might be an edited version. If the reader(s) has a problem with any post, the publishers and author(s) expects them to contact them, explaining the reasons for their discomfort. However, if the reader(s) choose to communicate with the publishers and author(s) by email, the reader(s) must note that since the security of unencrypted email is uncertain, sending sensitive or confidential emails holds the risks of such uncertainty and possible lack of confidentiality.

The publishers and author(s) reserve the right to change this Disclaimer, from time to time, in their sole and absolute discretion. If the reader(s) using this website after the institution of such changes, he/she is signifying their agreement to these changes. The publishers and author(s) also reserve the right to discontinue any aspect of this website at any time.