Only 220 Sumatran tigers left in Bengkulu

SUMATRA - Lingkar Institute (LI) Bengkulu director Fitriansyah says there are only 220 Sumatran tigers left in the wild in the province.

"Based on our study and research in 2012-2013, there are only between 180 and 220 Sumatran tigers left in Bengkulu forests," he said on Friday as quoted by Antara news agency.

According to the survey, the critically endangered species live in production forest areas, protected forests and national parks in nine regencies in Bengkulu.

Fitriansyah said Bengkulu appeared to have the largest Sumatran tiger population in Sumatra.

"A large number of people-tiger conflicts in Bengkulu indicates that today there is a large number of Sumatran tigers left in the wild," he said.

Every year, the LI receives five to seven reports of human-tiger conflicts. Most conflicts occur in the regencies of Kaur, Lebong and Seluma.

"In 2011, one local in Kepahiang regency and a resident from Seluma regency were mauled to death by a Sumatran tiger," said Fitriansyah.

The LI also reports that eight Sumatran tigers were found dead in Lebong while five more dead tigers were found in North Bengkulu and Muko-muko in 2013.

Fitriansyah said human-tiger conflicts in Bengkulu posed a threat not only to the tiger population in the province but also cause stress among local people.

"People's daily activities have been disrupted as they worry the tigers will threaten their safety," he said, adding that the LI had pushed for the establishment of a working unit to tackle the human-animal conflicts.