Tiger’s Death Not a Criminal Act, Police Claim
Fidelis E Satriastanti
Though investigations are still ongoing into the recent death of one of the few remaining Sumatran tigers, officials said on Monday that there were no indications of criminal intent in the case.
The 18-month-old Sumatran tiger died on Saturday after spending a week caught in a trap in a forest concession in Riau. The tiger’s ribs were broken and his front paws severely injured.
The trap was set up by a villager from Bukit Kesuma hamlet in Pelalawan district, but officials insisted it was meant for boars and deer.
“If the trap was meant for tigers, then the trapper wouldn’t leave the tiger there,” said Darori, the director general of forest protection and natural conservation at the Ministry of Forestry. “Upon seeing that he had caught a tiger, he would have hidden it and sold it.”
The death of the tiger was yet another blow to efforts to conserve the endangered species, fewer than 400 of which are left in Indonesia.
Osmantri, the coordinator of anti-poaching and illegal wildlife trading for World Wildlife Fund Indonesia, said the group would prefer to wait for the results of the autopsy.
“The police think it was not a criminal act because the trapper notified local authorities and did not intend to sell the tiger,” Osmantri said. “Even if we assume that he did not intend to trap any tigers, we must still take into consideration the kind of trap he was using.”
The trap, Osmantri said, was fitted with slings that severely injured the tiger’s front paws.
“If it was only made of nylon, tigers would have easily escaped, but this trap was made of steel slings and that’s why it crushed its paws,” he said.
Osmantri also questioned why the villager took several days to report the tiger’s situation to the authorities.
The trapper discovered the tiger last Sunday but only reported it to authorities on Thursday. By the time police and conservation officials found the tiger at 8 a.m. on Saturday, it was severely famished and dehydrated. It died at 11:45 a.m. the same day.
“He was probably scared, but if it was reported sooner, there could have been a proper evacuation,” he said.
Osmantri also called for the cooperation of Arara Abadi, which owns the forest concession where the tiger was found, to help protect wildlife.
“This is not only work for local authorities but for all parties.”
ASumatran tiger caught in a steel sling trap in Riau. The 18-month-old tiger died on Saturday.