Politics

Endangered tiger cubs take the spotlight

indonesia-sumatran-tiger-cub-2011-05-09.jpg

Sumatran tiger cubs play together at the Taman Safari Indonesia Animal Hospital, on Feb. 26, 2007 in West Java, Indonesia.

Credit:

Dimas Ardian

Twelve Sumatran tigers — including a mother and cubs — have been spotted by hidden cameras in a forest in Indonesia.

But, according to officials, it's not entirely good news.

The tigers are endangered — there are only about 400 left in the world — and such a large group in one place is extremely rare.

"That was the highest number of tigers and tiger images obtained ... we've ever experienced," said Karmila Parakkasi, leader of conservation charity WWF's tiger research team in Sumatra.

Parakkasi also told media that the cluster of tigers could be a byproduct of worsening conditions, since development and environmental degradation may be forcing the tigers onto a smaller and smaller patch of land.

"What's unclear is whether we found so many tigers because we're getting better at locating our cameras or because the tiger's habitat is shrinking so rapidly here that they are being forced into sharing smaller and smaller bits of forests," the researcher said.

To make matters worse, according to the BBC, the Bukit Tigapuluh forest where the tigers were spotted is reportedly due to be cleared by loggers.