With life in the wild becoming increasingly hazardous for the rare Sumatran tiger, the people at the Taman Rimba Zoo thought they could protect at least this one specimen, which was part of their own collection. They were wrong.
Police have charged a thug with a long criminal record with killing the tiger, right in its own zoo enclosure. The animal was dismembered on the spot, and nearly all of its parts spirited away. “The killers left only its intestines in the cage,” said the director of the zoo, which is on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
The fact that living in captivity ended up shortening the tiger’s life rather than preserving it is not the only tragic irony in this case. The Zoological Society of London has also disclosed that five years ago this very tiger was used to help train Indonesian vets and zoologists.
The poacher has admitted to receiving an order for the tiger’s skin from an Indonesian “businessman,” but it’s likely the rest it found its way to China. A lucrative market in animal parts has turned that country into a kind of Bermuda Triangle for endangered species, and of all the coveted animals, tigers are near the top of the list.
Deforestation, poaching, and expanding human habitation have taken a drastic toll on the Sumatran tiger. Conservation experts estimate that only about 400 of them still live in the wild.