So, the BBC Dynasties series culminated last night with a story of a tigress in India struggling to raise her four cubs to adulthood.

The Tropical Forests team was left pondering whether it is similarly difficult for our female tigers trying to raise families in Harapan, Sumatra. The answer is, probably yes.

The critically endangered Sumatran tiger is the last surviving subspecies of Indonesian tigers; with the Balinese tiger declared extinct in the 1930s followed by the Javan tiger in the 1980s. There are less than 400 individuals in the wild today and pressure on these remaining few continues, primarily from habitat loss and poaching.

These maps show the extent of forest in Sumatra in 1900 compared to what was left by 2000. Harapan Rainforest is one of the largest remaining fragments and somewhat of a haven for endangered species like the tiger. In fact, using camera traps we have identified 34 different individuals resident in Harapan, including breeding females with cubs. This indicates that Harapan is supporting a healthy population of tigers, almost 10% of the world’s total population. 


But tigers are solitary and need large territories of their own so, just as seen in the Dynasties episode, as the population in Harapan flourishes individuals may be driven out into neighbouring, unprotected lands where they are more likely to come into conflict with people.  

The Harapan partnership has applied for permits to radio collar some of the tigers in Harapan to gain a better understanding of the movements of tigers in the area and establish what the risks are when they do roam outside of the concession.