Friday, February 26, 2010

Indonesian Tiger Puzzle

Before I start I would like to clearly state that I am in no way attacking the work of (Animal Sanctuary Trust Indonesia), an organisation that I know next to nothing about (their web address is not working). Having seen the terrible conditions that animals are kept in in some Indonesian zoos (notably Banjarnegara and Batturaden ), it is somewhat reassuring to know that someone out there wants to do it properly.

There are puzzles though. This sanctuary is appealing for cash (and I'm not saying they don't deserve it) to build an enclosure for 4 tigers and to pay for their continual upkeep. Why? These animals were confiscated by Indonesian Government officials and placed in ASTI. Surely it is the Indonesian Government who should be covering all costs? If not them then the 'owner's' of the animals up till at least the trial and the guilty party is decided upon. As they were able to support tigers, deer, birds of paradise etc then surely they still should. These ASTI tigers are, I am guessing, the ones siezed from South Tangerang.
There is a huge confusion here. The paper...The Jakarta Globe states that :

"Five endangered tigers, including three cubs, have been discovered in the apparently illegal possession of a man with a long-standing penchant for keeping tigers in the great concrete wilds of Tangerang" This on the 5th February

Then on the 21st February we have "Wildlife officials found a full-grown female tiger and three cubs along with other exotic animals during a raid on a house in Pondok Cabe Ilir, South Tang­erang, the second such discovery this month."

Unless someone has made a big mistake then this is two collections of tigers in Tangerang. A total of 9 animals...being 3 adults and 6 cubs. There is undoubtedly a connection between the two collections. I still question as to where the other tigers are because I cannot believe that the owner of the first siezure, who had been keeping tigers for 25 years, had only produced a single litter. Ten litters in such a time span would be an under estimate.

Up to now these tigers have not been DNA tested. The idea of returning them to the wild is, I believe, not really a seriously viable option though they have done it only very recently. see Tigers Are Released In Spite of Protests (some video footage included).

If it turns out that these are actually pure Sumatran Tigers and not related to those at Taman Safari Indonesia (the DNA could possibly show that*) then these animals would be extremely valuable to the captive breeding programme and should move on to a participating zoo. Far better than having them wasting away at ASTI.

Recently we have had protests and comments from many including myself to the Indonesian government plan to rent out tigers to the rich.

Indonesian Tigers as Pets. Good Idea or Not?
The Indonesian Tiger Dumping Plan Stinks

I don't know whether they are having a rethink because there has been no news. It would be appalling if they were to start charging places like ASTI for keeping tigers which they confiscated. Do they charge Taman Safari? What is the arrangement there? Surely the Park is paid by the goverment for tigers placed with them *.

No doubt we will learn more in coming weeks.

*Taman Safari recieves on an irregular basis wild caught Sumatran tigers for various reasons. These are held in an off show unit within the park.

Below, in part, is the ASTI letter:

Dear Friends:

On Saturday night, 20 Feb 2010, four tigers were delivered to the ASTI (Animal Sanctuary Trust Indonesia) site, a family of one mother with three rather large cubs (two females and one male). The animals had been confiscated by the Indonesian government from a private house in Jakarta, where they had been caged since 2003 following their purchase from animal traders. While these animals appear to be Sumatran tigers, we are awaiting the results of DNA tests for confirmation of this. Take a look at the attached photos to see three of these beautiful big cats, Dea one of the girls, her brother Flandy, and their mother Ziva. The other female cub (not shown) is called Leony.

Sumatran tigers are critically endangered, losing their habitat fast as development encroaches unrelentingly on forests on the island of Sumatra. It is estimated that only about 400 of these beautiful animals remain in the wild. If these tigers disappear, the loss to Indonesia and indeed to the planet will be immense.

We at ASTI are doing our best to care for the four newcomers. Their future depends on the results of their DNA tests, which will confirm whether or not they are Sumatran tigers. However, in anticipation of the family’s possible lengthy stay with ASTI, we are already making plans to build a new very large enclosure for them. It’s extremely tragic that these majestic animals have been taken from their natural habitat and forced to become caged animals, and we hope very much that should they in fact be Sumatran tigers, they will have a chance at rehabilitation and release.

Can we work together to make the Year of the Tiger a better year for these animals? Please help us to give the proper care to these four tigers so that we can fight to save tigers from extinction. Their new enclosure will cost about US$10,000, and their grocery bills will be close to US$1,000 per month. Your donation right now will help us with their food, shelter and medical attention. Please see the information below for how to make a donation.

In sincere appreciation of your help,


Chair, Board of Management
Animal Sanctuary Trust Indonesia (ASTI)

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