Camera Catches Rare Tiger Losing Habitat to Clear-Cutting Bulldozer

Sal holds a political science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.
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Female Sumatran tiger Soy rests in the outdoor habitat at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Molly Riley/Reuters)

A video camera set up in Indonesia to monitor the endangered Sumatran tiger not only filmed the rare big cat in action, it also snapped photographs of its arch nemesis—the bulldozer.

Released on Wednesday by the World Wildlife Fund, the video encapsulates the plight of the tiger in just three frames:

1) a curious male tiger sniffs the camera lens

2) a week later, the camera films a bulldozer clearing trees in the same area

3) a tiger—officials are unsure if it's the same tiger—is seen walking through the flattened landscape

"When we set the trap, there was just a path there," said Ian Kosasih, a director at WWF-Indonesia, according to MSNBC. "But it seems like they were preparing it for a palm oil plantation."

Indonesia Forestry Ministry officials said Wednesday that they were aware of the video and were investigating the situation.

Right now, say officials, it is too early to label the bulldozing activities as illegal. Local officials can authorize road-building in areas protected from commercial development.

New studies indicate that as few as 3,200 tigers are left in the wild today, and the big cats occupy less than 7 percent of their original range.

With only 400 remaining in the wild, the Sumatran tiger is the most endangered subspecies, due largely to developers razing its habitat to make room for palm oil plantations.

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