BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP) – Three critically endangered Sumatran tigers were found dead after being caught in traps on Indonesia’s Sumatra island in the recent setback for a species whose number is estimated to have dropped to around 400, authorities said Monday .
A female and a tiger male were found dead Sunday with bone injuries caused by a snare trap near a palm oil plantation in the eastern Aceh district of Aceh province, local police chief Hendra Sukmana said.
The body of another huntiger was found hours later about 500 meters (550 yards) away with a snare still embedded in her nearly severed neck and legs, he said.
Sukmana said authorities have appealed to the community and plantation companies not to put snares in forest areas where wildlife can cross.
An autopsy was being conducted by a team of veterinarians to determine the causes of the tigers’ deaths, said Agus Arianto, head of the Aceh Conservation Agency, adding that several traps similar to those used to catch wild boar on farms were found in the area around the dead tigers.
Snare traps are commonly used by farmers in Sumatra Island to catch wild boar, which are considered destructive pests with a wide and voracious appetite on a variety of plants. However, poachers have also used snare traps to kill endangered wildlife for economic purposes.
“We strongly condemn this incident and will cooperate with law enforcement agencies in an investigation,” Arianto said in a statement.
Under Indonesia’s law on the conservation of natural resources and ecosystems, those who intentionally kill protected animals will face up to five years in prison and a fine of 100 million rupiah ($ 7,000).
Sumatran tigers – the most critically endangered tiger subspecies – are under increasing pressure due to poaching and a shrinking jungle habitat, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list of endangered species. It is estimated that there are fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild.
It was the latest killing of endangered animals on Sumatra Island. Conservationists say the coronavirus pandemic has led to increased poaching as villagers turn to hunting to supplement reduced incomes.
In October, a huntiger was found dead with damage caused by a snare trap in the Bukit Batu Game Reserve in the Bengkalis district of Riau province, just two months after three tigers, including two cubswas found dead in the Leuser Ecosystem Area, a forest area for tiger conservation in Aceh and North Sumatra provinces.
Aceh police also arrested four men in June last year for allegedly catching a tiger with a snare trap and selling its remains for 100 million rupiah ($ 7,000). Days later, another Sumatran tiger died after eating a goat with rat poison in the neighboring province of North Sumatra.
A baby elephant died in November last year after losing half of his suitcase to a trap set by poachers preying on the endangered species.