Thu, 18 Sep 2003

Jungle justice, tigers kill illegal loggers

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Dozens of illegal loggers in the forests of Senepis, Bulu Hala and Santa Hulu in Dumai regency, Riau, have been preyed upon by tigers over the last three years, officials said on Wednesday.

"The deaths of illegal loggers, having been attacked by tigers, are based on reports from local people," head of the Dumai natural resources conservation resort office Jusman told Antara.

He said the victims were generally illegal loggers from outside Dumai, recruited by bosses from North Sumatra and Java.

Speaking in Dumai, Jusman said the deaths were usually not reported to local authorities as the victims were not local residents.

The cases became known about as the dead victims included at least seven loggers from Dumai, he added.

The death of seven locals from the neighborhoods of Sungai Sembilan and Pelintung was recorded between August 2002 and September this year.

Jusman admitted that the tigers had become ferocious because their habitat was being destroyed due to uncontrolled logging, and they were starving.

"Dumai's forests have increasingly being used for settlement and plantations, quite apart from widespread illegal logging," he pointed out.

Jusman continued that the Dumai forests were home to about 40 Sumatra tigers, with some posing a serious threat to local people.

At least 10 were caught earlier this year, six of which were sent to Bogor Safari Park, West Java, three killed and another released in Senepis.

"We have advised local people not to take revenge against the animals. They appear to have accepted the advice as they don't wish to kill them, but instead safeguard and protect them," Jusman said.

He added the Dumai administration has declared 60,000 hectares of the Senepis forest a zone for tiger conservation.