Warning: this blog contains images and video footage that may upset you.
Recently word came to our Greenpeace office in Indonesia that a Sumatran tiger was stuck in an animal trap in the province of Riau. It had been snared for six days in total without food or water. After a week of suffering, forest officers arrived to evacuate the tiger – but it was too late. The tiger died during the rescue attempt.
The spot where the tiger became trapped was in an Asian Pulp and Paper (APP) acacia plantation. Video footage reveals that near the snare was a large area of recently destroyed forest where active clearing was still ongoing. Just 13 kilometres away from where its habitat was being destroyed by excavators, this animal spent its last days trapped, injured and starving.
The Sumatran tiger is critically endangered: only about 400 remain in the wild -- and now another has been lost.
"This sad and startling footage shows the toll that rainforest destruction has on wildlife," said Bustar Maitar, of Greenpeace South East Asia. "If APP weren’t trashing the rainforests of Indonesia to make packaging and paper, then endangered tigers would not be forced into closer contact with humans, and there’s much less chance that they’d get caught in traps like this one."
It has been said that roads in a forest are like veins – once opened they can drain the forest of life. When APP builds a concession in tiger habitat, it not only destroys the forest the tiger would normally roam, sleep and hunt in – the roads it builds to carry away the timber also let in all kinds of other disruptions. When their natural habitat is destroyed, tigers must roam even further for food and shelter, which often brings them closer to forest communities and causes more conflict.
What makes the situation even more insulting is how APP portrays itself as a sustainable, responsible business. It runs ads that often use the tagline ‘APP Cares’ next to the image tiger's paw print, giving the impression that APP cares about tigers. In reality its operations destroy tiger habitat for profit -- pushing these animals to the brink of extinction.
Image: Melvinas Priananda / Greenpeace
The simple fact is that if we are to protect precious animal habitats, and minimise the negative consequences for forest communities, deforestation must be ended -- and the same applies to rainforests in the DRC, where logging operation are frequently tied to human rights violations. Community-based responses to deforestation are violently crushed as people are beaten and even raped.
Our campaigns in forests around the world are vitally important, not just for animals like the Sumatran tiger, but also for the many communities who depend on intact rainforests for their livelihoods. The final struggle of this one Sumatran tiger is just the latest example of how desperately we need to protect the world's rainforests.