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Indonesian Tiger Trade Goes Digital

A Sumatran tiger growls at the Sumatra Tiger Rescue Center compound, inside Tambling Wildlife Nature Conservation (TWNC), near Bandar Lampung, the southern tip of Sumatra island, Feb. 25, 2013.
Online trafficking in endangered Sumatran tigers is sparking Indonesia's Forestry Ministry to form new task forces to protect the animal's shrinking population.

The Chairman of the Our Tiger Forum, Doli Priatna, tells VOA Indonesian his investigation shows the existence of an international organization that sells tiger parts around the region.

"Since the 1970s the population of Sumatran tigers has gone down drastically along with the increase of the human population," he said. "Even now, tigers are hunted illegally for their parts. We discovered tiger part trading on the Internet. So, the rapid flow of information on the Internet indirectly increases the threats against tigers."

According to the Forum’s investigation, tiger parts are transported out of the wild to be sold overseas. These parts are transported first to Singapore, where they are then sold to other countries, including South Korea, China and Taiwan. The population of wild Sumatran tigers is now just 350.

Doli Priatna complains that authorities, especially the police, are not doing nearly enough to crack down on tiger hunting.

Agus Sutito of the Forestry Ministry, who admits it is very difficult to safeguard the tiger's habitat, says his agency is forming task forces that will collaborate with local authorities on Sumatra island.

During 2012, authorities confiscated 22 stuffed tigers being offered for sale on the Internet.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Indonesian service.