Sumatran Tiger Cubs Caught on Video for the First Time

The World Wildlife Fund captured the two tiger cubs along with their mother on the island of Sumatra.

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MICHAEL CASEY,
AP Environmental Writer

BANGKOK—A video camera in the jungles of Indonesia has captured the first known footage of Sumatran tiger cubs in the wild, boosting efforts to conserve the endangered species, an environmental group said Thursday.

The video shot in October on the island of Sumatra shows two, year-old cubs and their mother approaching and sniffing the camera before moving on.

WWF's tiger research team set up four video camera traps along known tiger routes that allow the animals to move between two protected areas in central Sumatra, the Rimbang Baling Wildlife Reserve and Bukit Tigapuluh National Park.

Ian Kosasih, WWF-Indonesia's forest program director, said the images showed the need to turn the corridor into a protected area and for paper and palm oil companies in the area to shield what he called high-value forest under their control.

"When these cubs are old enough to leave their mother, which will be soon, they will have to find their own territory," Kosasih said in a statement. "Where will they go? As tiger (habitats shrank) with so much of the surrounding area having been cleared, the tigers will have a very hard time avoiding encounters with people. That will then be very dangerous for everyone involved."

Sumatran tigers are on the brink of extinction because of rapid deforestation, poaching and clashes with humans. Their numbers have dwindled to about 400 from about 1,000 in the 1970s, the WWF estimates.

The infrared-triggered camera traps, which are activated upon sensing body heat in their path, have become an important tool to monitor the population and identify which areas of forest are used by tigers, WWF said. WWF operates dozens of cameras throughout the central Sumatran province of Riau.

Karmila Parakkasi, the leader of WWF-Indonesia's Sumatran tiger research team, said her crew first captured still images of the tigress and a cub in July 2009 using still camera traps. The photos, however, were not clear. Video camera traps were then installed in September at the same location.

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On the Net:

WWF: http://www.panda.org/what_we_do/endangered_species/tigers/?185602

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