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NEWS UPDATES 27 September 2010

Indo forest clearing disturbs tigers

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Sumatran tigers have been preying on humans in Riau, apparently because of the disappearance of their normal sources of food in their natural habitat, a government official says.

Trisnu Danisworo, the head of Riau provincial Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA), said he was concerned about tigers following the recent discovery of the body of a man who had been taken by a tiger.

The incomplete remains of Sugian, 35, were found last week after he had been declared missing earlier. He was believed to have been attacked by a tiger while working in an oil palm plantation.

However, the body could not be removed immediately because the tiger was guarding it closely.

"The tiger refused to back away until several personnel from the local police came to help," Trisnu said.

The site where the body was found had long been a conflict area between humans and tigers living in protected forests nearby, he said.

The site was previously dense forest but had been cleared for oil palm plantations.

Trisnu said he had deployed a team to investigate the incident and collect information in hope of preventing a repeat occurrence.

Meanwhile, Sumatran Tiger Preservation Foundation (YPHS) chief Suwandi said traces had shown that the tiger was young, between four and five years old.

"The way it ate the victim shows it was still learning how to eat," he said.

Suwandi said the Bukit Batu forest had been seriously damaged from rampant illegal logging activities over the past few years.

"Wild swine and deer, the tigers' natural prey, have eventually disappeared," he said.

He urged the government and all stakeholders to come up with concrete programs to end the conflicts, and protect tigers from extinction.

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