TEMPO.CO, Bengkulu - Residents of Lubuk Bangko village in Selagan Raya sub-district, Mukomuko district, Bengkulu province have repeatedly reported sighting two Sumatran tigers in chili farming areas inside their paddy fields over the past few days.
Several villagers have spotted the tigers (Pantera Tigris Sumatrae) and contacted the Teras Terunjam police precinct, Mukomuko Police chief, Adjunct Sen.Coms. Andy Arisandi, said here on Tuesday.
According to one such report, two villagers, identified as Jubir (32) and Kangoro (22), sighted an adult tiger and its cub hanging around their chili farm around 7:30 p.m. local time on Monday (February 22, 2021), he informed.
Kangoro told police that he took the tiger cub to be a forest cat at first, but after he realized what it was and spotted the adult tiger, he rushed into the hut he shared with Jubir, Arisandi said.
He then contacted his family and apprised them of the tiger sighting. Thirty minutes later, around 100 villagers came to Jubir and Kangoro’s hut to escort them to safety.
Both men returned home with the help of the 100 villagers, Arisandi said.
He said he has informed authorities at the Kerinci Seblat National Park (TNKS) and asked the Bengkulu Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) to check the farms where the two tigers have been sighted.
He has also appealed to the TNKS and BKSDA officials to ask the village head and villagers to not kill the tigers if they are found trespassing on their farms.
ANTARA has reported earlier that Sumatran tigers are the only surviving tiger species in Indonesia. The country has already lost two sub-species of tigers to extinction: the Bali tiger became extinct in 1937 and the Javan tiger in the 1970s.
Sumatran tigers, the smallest of all tigers, are currently a critically endangered species and are found only on Sumatra Island, Indonesia's second-largest island.
The tigers are on the brink of extinction owing to deforestation, poaching, and conflicts with humans owing to dwindling habitats.
The data on the number of Sumatran tigers remaining in the wild is ambiguous, though the latest estimates range from under 300 to possibly 500 at 27 locations, including the Kerinci Seblat National Park, Tesso Nilo Park, and Gunung Leuser National Park.
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), their numbers have fallen sharply from about one thousand in the 1970s.
A 2009 report by the forestry ministry pointed to conflict with humans as the biggest threat to conservation efforts. The report cited that on average, five to 10 Sumatran tigers have been killed annually since 1998.