Dedek Hendry, Bengkulu – A female Sumatran tiger has been found dead in a wire trap in a forest within Seluma regency, Bengkulu, in yet another incident that has drawn attention to the already critically endangered species.
Ridwan, a villager from nearby Selingsingan village, found the tiger's carcass when he was looking for rattan sprouts in Bukit Badas forest on Wednesday morning.
He stopped his activities after seeing the carcass – located roughly 6 kilometers from the village – and immediately returned home to report his finding to the village chief.
"We already checked the location and found a dead female tiger with a piece of wire wrapped around her neck," Seluma Police special crimes unit head Second Insp. Catur Teguh Susanto said on Thursday.
Based on the police's examination, none of the tiger's body parts were missing. The carcass' head, however, was rotting away by the time the police arrived.
"It was full of maggots. We assume [the tiger] had been dead for over six days," Catur said, adding that a team from the Bengkulu Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA Bengkulu) had taken the carcass for further investigation.
Authorities also found a wire trap located approximately 10 meters from the location of the dead tiger and a rotten pig carcass near the trap, which was presumably used as bait.
Seluma Police chief Sr. Comr. I Nyoman Mertha Danta said they had launched an investigation into the incident, which he said was not the first of its kind in the area.
"It's possible that the perpetrator is not a local resident of Seluma regency," he said, "Last year, we also caught a hunter [in the area] but they were not from Seluma."
BKSDA Bengkulu acting manager Mariska Tarantona said the dead tiger was 2 years old and had yet to give birth.
"We already brought her body to the office. We plan to bury her after extracting a DNA sample and documenting her stripes, since her body is rotting," Mariska said.
The agency analyzed the tiger's stripes to see if the tiger was the same as a Sumatran tiger that the BKSDA had previously monitored through a camera trap, she said.
BKSDA Bengkulu also planned to launch a sweeping operation in Bukit Badas to check whether other traps had been installed by hunters in the area.
The Sumatran tiger, the only surviving species of the Sunda Islands tigers that once included the now-extinct Bali tiger and Javan tiger, has been listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List since 2008.
An official estimate from the Environment and Forestry Ministry stated that, as of December 2018, the Sumatran tiger population stood at no more than 600 because of a loss of habitat and poaching. (dpk)