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Source:  National Geographic

Matthew Luskin is a conservation biologist, wildlife ecologist, and National Geographic grantee. He spent a year in the rain forest of Indonesia tracking tigers through the remaining three largest national parks—and it was seriously dangerous.

“When there’s a tiger around you can’t sleep. You can barely eat. You can’t do anything because all you are is scared for your life,” Luskin said. Right before they started their expedition, there were tiger attacks. “One guy was eaten alive and the other three were kept hostage in a tree for four days, and it took the military to come with guns to scare them away,”

Luskin is trying to understand how important tigers are to the ecosystem. The Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is the last of the island subspecies. “Because tigers are being lost rapidly from across the entire region and maybe the entire world, and nowhere is that more important than Indonesia, where the Balinese tiger already went extinct in the early 1920s. The Javanese tigers went extinct in the 1970s, and now the Sumatran tiger is at great risk of being extinct in the next 50 or 100 years, and so that might have cascading impacts throughout the ecosystem.”

Sumatran tigers are threatened by poaching for Chinese medicine, and the remaining tiger habitat in Indonesia is being rapidly deforested. The forest is fragmented amidst oil palm plantations.

Read the story at National Geographic. 

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