Navigation Links
Nowhere to hide: Study finds future of Sumatran tigers threatened by human disturbances

Three of the world's subspecies of tigers are now extinct. A new study found that the Sumatran tiger subspecies is nearing extinction as a result of human activities, particularly the conversion of natural forests into forestry and agricultural plantations, leading to habitat loss.

The study, conducted by Virginia Tech and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), is the first of its kind to systematically investigate the use of different land cover types not just forests but also plantation areas for tiger habitat.

Published in the Public Library of Science's online journal PLoS ONE on Jan. 23, the study was led by Sunarto, who earned his doctorate in wildlife sciences from Virginia Tech in 2011. The study was a collaboration between the university and WWF, and received support from the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry.

The authors found that Sumatran tigers strongly prefer forests over plantations of acacia and oil palm trees and tend to avoid plantation areas unless they contain thick ground-level vegetation and have extremely low levels of human activities.

Within forest areas, tigers also strongly prefer sites that have low levels of human disturbance as indicated by their preference for areas closer to forest centers and farther from human activity centers such as bodies of water and forest edges.

The most notable find, however, was the tigers' strong predilection for sites with understory cover vegetation cover at the ground level which suggests that the availability of adequate understory cover serves as an environmental necessity for tiger habitat, regardless of location.

"As ambush hunters, tigers would find it hard to capture their prey without adequate understory cover," said Sunarto, who is now a tiger expert for WWFIndonesia. "The lack of cover also leaves tigers vulnerable to persecution by humans, who generally perceive them as dangerous."

While the Indonesian government has set aside many areas and national parks for the conservation of endangered species, about 70 percent of tiger habitat in Sumatra remains outside these protected areas. The preservation of such habitats, which requires support from government, landowners, and concession holders, is critical for the conservation of the species, the study authors emphasize.

"Even with current legal protection for the species, tigers are not doing well in many places, especially those outside protected areas," Sunarto said. "As long as forest conversion continues, tigers will require active protection or they will quickly disappear from our planet."

"These results indicate that to thrive, tigers depend on the existence of large contiguous forest blocks," said study co-author Marcella Kelly (, an associate professor in Virginia Tech's Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation and Sunarto's graduate advisor.

The study concludes that in order to protect tigers, it is critical to stop the clearing of Indonesia's remaining natural forests for plantations. With adjustments in management practices in existing plantations to include more understory and riparian forest corridors, tigers could use a mosaic of forest patches across fragmented landscapes.

"We hope that plantation managers and concession owners can use the recommendations of this report to apply best management practices to further protect Sumatran tigers from extinction," said Anwar Purwoto, director of the Forest, Freshwater, and Species Program at WWFIndonesia.

A recently published Indonesian presidential decree on land use in Sumatra plan points out the importance of building wildlife corridors between critical areas, where commitments from concession owners are key to successful implementation.

"Ensuring that tigers are able to roam freely in natural forests and restored habitat is crucial to their survival," said co-author Sybille Klenzendorf, head of WWF's species program, who earned her master's and doctorate degrees in wildlife science from Virginia Tech. "This study is a reminder of just how important it is for us to protect the natural forests that tigers and other animals rely on."

Tigers occupy only around 7 percent of their historic range. There are estimated to be as few as 3,200 tigers left in the wild, and fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers, which are listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.


Contact: Lynn Davis
Virginia Tech

Related biology news :

1. Cleveland Clinic Childrens Hospital launches study to genetically test for autism
2. Iowa State, Ames Lab chemists aid study of mutated plants that may be better for biofuels
3. UBC researcher invents lab on a chip device to study malaria
4. Ice Age coyotes were supersized compared to coyotes today, fossil study reveals
5. Coral reef study traces indirect effects of overfishing
6. Traces of listeria found in Vancouver ready-to-eat fish products: UBC study
7. Study IDs new marine protected areas in Madagascar
8. Invasive plant protects Australian lizards from invasive toad: Study
9. Healthy foods missing from stores in low-income black neighborhoods, UGA study finds
10. UC Santa Barbara researchers new study may lead to MRIs on a nanoscale
11. First study to show that bisphenol A exposure increases risk of future onset of heart disease
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Nowhere to hide: Study finds future of Sumatran tigers threatened by human disturbances
(Date:11/19/2015)... MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. , Nov. 19, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... authentication market, Frost & Sullivan recognizes BIO-key with the ... Strategy Leadership. Each year, Frost & Sullivan presents this ... comprehensive product line catering to the needs of the ... which the product line meets and expands on customer ...
(Date:11/18/2015)... 2015 --> ... market report titled  Gesture Recognition Market - Global Industry ... 2021. According to the report, the global gesture recognition market was valued ... reach US$29.1 bn by 2021, at a CAGR of ... America dominated the global gesture recognition market ...
(Date:11/17/2015)... Nov. 17, 2015  Vigilant Solutions announces today that ... Board of Directors. --> ... retiring from the partnership at TPG Capital, one of ... over $140 Billion in revenue.  He founded and led ... the TPG companies, from 1997 to 2013.  In his ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... Germany , November 30, 2015 ... Vienna, Austria to be held December ... (ECNR) in Vienna, Austria to ... wholly owned subsidiary of Vycor Medical, Inc. ("Vycor") (OTCQB: VYCO), ... NovaVision Therapy Suite at the 3rd European Congress of ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... , Nov. 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/--  Mallinckrodt plc (NYSE: ... today that it has closed the sale of its ... Guerbet (GBT- NYSE Euronext) in a transaction valued at ... manufacturing facilities and a total of approximately 1,000 employees ... St. Louis area. This entire ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... , November 26, 2015 ... Biobanking Market 2016 - 2020 report analyzes that ... integrity and quality in long-term samples, minimizing manual ... cost-effectiveness. Automation minimizes manual errors such as mislabeling ... efficiency. Further, it plays a vital role in ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015  Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: NBIX ... and CEO of Neurocrine Biosciences, will be presenting at ... New York . .   ... approximately 5 minutes prior to the presentation to download ... presentation will be available on the website approximately one ...
Breaking Biology Technology: