Securing a shared future for wildlife and people

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Sumatran tigers
Kembali, left, with Jumilah, front. (Credit: Emma Lloyd)

At Taronga Zoo, our young Sumatran Tigers, Kartika, Kembali and Sakti, are now over a year old and already wonderful ambassadors for their species.

It’s quite breathtaking to see how quickly they have developed from tiny, striped balls of fur into sleek hunters, already as big as their mother, Jumilah.

 Sumatran Tigers are critically endangered in the wild and Taronga is playing a vital role in helping protect their future. These three young tigers will help contribute to carefully managed zoo-based breeding programs providing critically important insurance populations in human care.

Taronga also contributes to education programs overseas, designed to help villagers near tiger habitat reduce the number of attacks.

Staring at Taronga’s majestic tigers, it’s hard to imagine why so few remain in the wild. However, conflict between humans and tigers is unfortunately very common throughout most of their native habitat.

As recently as the 7th of November this year, angry villagers killed a Bengal Tiger for attacking a fisherman in south-western Bangladesh. Such attacks are sadly frequent, as tigers retreat from human habitation in Sumatra, Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Nepal, and parts of Russia.

There are a number of reasons for the conflict. Human populations in tiger habitat are increasing, with more and more villagers relying on crops or livestock for their livelihood. These make for easy prey for tigers, which are also being pushed further from their natural habitat, which is often destroyed through illegal logging activities. This leads to an increase in the number of human-tiger encounters – and when tigers attack, villagers retaliate by killing the tiger. Recent escalations in the traditional medicine market for tiger body parts are driven by the disposable income of Asia’s burgeoning middle class.