Endangered Sumatran tiger dies in trap on APP concession in Indonesia

Warning: this blog contains images and video footage that may upset you.

Feature Story - 2011-07-25
Recently word came to our Greenpeace office in Indonesia that a Sumatran tiger was stuck in an animal trap in an area being logged by Asia Pulp and Paper (APP). It was trapped 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.

An endangered Sumatran tiger, found trapped by a villager in an acacia plantation, belonging to Arara Abadi (a Sinar Mas conession) in Pelalawan District.

Zamzami, a Greenpeace media campaigner, traveled to the area with the rescue team as an observer and was present for the tiger’s last few hours. He describes the scene that met him: Despite its ordeal the “tiger still emitted a strong wild aura” and “greeted me with an angry roar”. Everyone present stood stunned and silent to see the “King of the jungle lying low, trapped and suffering in his own home”.

The spot where the tiger became trapped was on the border of PT Arara Abadi, an APP acacia plantation in the province of Riau. Video footage reveals that near the spot where the tiger wandered into the trap, there was a large area of recently destroyed forest where active clearing was ongoing.

That means a lot of disruptive activity was happening: Trees were being felled and heavy machinery, like excavators, were busy clearing the rainforest. Only 13 kilometres away from where the excavators were at work is the spot where this animal spent its last days trapped, injured and starving.

Unfortunately, more tragic moments like this are in store for these magestic animals. The Sumatran tiger is already endangered. There are only around 400 remaining in the wild – and now, there's one tiger less.

Yet APP operations continue to clear more rainforest, destroying the home and hunting grounds of the Sumatran tiger  to feed APP’s pulp and paper operations. The future doesn't look any better: the company has ambitious expansion plans – including into even more tiger habitat.

As a result, we are losing rainforests and Sumatran tigers all so that APP can churn out ordinary, dispsoable goods – like throw-away toy packaging. Some of this packaging has been used by toy companies such as Hasbro, Disney and Mattel.

Someone once told me that roads in a forest are like veins – once opened they can eventually drain the forest of life. When APP builds a concession in tiger habitat, it not only destroys the forests in which the tiger would roam, sleep and hunt: The roads built to transport timber also let in all kinds of other disruptions. People come and lay traps to hunt other animals; even if they don’t mean to interfere with the tiger, they do. When their traditional habitat is destroyed, tigers must roam even further for food and shelter, which often brings them closer to forest communities and causes more conflict.

APP must stop relying on further clearance of rainforest for its business. Destruction of rainforests in Indonesia must stop to protect animals like the Sumatran tiger, minimize negative consequences for forest communities, and for Indonesia to cut its carbon emissions contributing to climate change, most of which come from deforestation.

This pulp and paper company adds insult to injury by portraying itself as a sustainable, responsible business that acts to protect biodiversity and animals like the Sumatran tiger. It runs ads on television and in print all over the world that presents itself like an NGO. Its ads often use the tagline ‘APP Cares’ next to an image like the imprint of a tiger paw, giving the impression. In reality, its operations destroy tiger habitat for profit, pushing these animals to the brink of extinction.

The impression that APP projects of being a caring company, committed to sustainability and conservation efforts, is revealed to be a lie as soon as it is compared with the reality of APP operations. In addition to removing APP products from their supply chain, toy companies like Mattel, Hasbro and Disney must put in place new policies to cover all their purchases of pulp and paper products. This is the only way to ensure they will not be complicit in forest destruction in the future.

The last moments of this single Sumatran tiger are just the latest example of the terrible costs of the ongoing destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests. If APP continues to operate this way, such moments will become commonplace – until there are no more tigers.

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We are demanding that Mattel, Hasbro and Disney remove deforestation from their supply chains – that means removing APP products and creating new policies covering all their purchasing of pulp and paper products. Take action here!

Destroying rainforest for throw-away packaging is a heart-breaking environmental tragedy. Greenpeace needs your help now. Just 100 HKD a month will help us stop global corporations from buying paper made from critically endangered animal habitat. Please, donate today

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