Global Politics

A Controversial Wildlife Refuge on Tiger Island

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Sumatran "conflict" tiger (Photo: Tiger Island, BBC Natural World Special)

The Geo Quiz takes us to a place nicknamed Tiger Island.

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Our question is: is it volcanic island nicknamed El Tigre off the coast of Honduras?

Or is it a tropical Indonesian island well known for its magnificent, and endangered tigers?

Well the answer is both.

But the one we're interested in is the island of Sumatra. It's the setting for a new BBC Natural World documentary called "Tiger Island".

The film's a close-up look at a controversial wildlife sanctuary there run by a eccentric Indonesian millionaire. "Tiger Island" follows Panthera's CEO and tiger expert, Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, as he investigates the efforts to rehabilitate and release conflict tigers in Sumatra.

If you're wondering Rabinowitz, who's been called the "Indiana Jones of Wildlife Protection" became interested in conservation, have a listen:

Why is the Sumatran Tiger critically endangered? According to Panthera.org:

"Today, it is estimated that between 400-500 wild Sumatran tigers remain. A main cause of the decline in Sumatra's tiger populations is habitat loss and fragmentation of once wild areas for agriculture and other developments, including monocultures for oil palm, coffee and pulp and paper. Growing developments like these and increases in human populations have forced the Sumatran tiger into closer contact with local communities, often leading to human-tiger conflicts. In retaliation, many Sumatran tigers are hunted by local villagers. A lack of natural prey like deer due to overhunting by humans is also forcing tigers to pretty on domestic animals, fueling human-tiger conflicts. The Sumatran tiger is also targeted for its valuable skin and body parts that are sold on the illegal wildlife market and used for traditional medicinal remedies across Asia."

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