Cameras in Sumatran jungle capture tigress and cubs on film for first time

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Washington, January 8 (ANI): Researchers, using camera traps deep in the Sumatran jungle have captured first-time images of a rare female tiger and her cubs, giving scientists unique insight into the elusive tiger's behaviour.

After a month in operation, specially designed video cameras installed by WWF-Indonesia's researchers seeking to record tigers in the Sumatran jungle caught the mother tiger and her cubs on film as they stopped to sniff and check out the camera trap.

There are as few as 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild and they are under relentless pressure from poaching and clearing of their habitat.

After five years of studying tigers using wildlife-activated camera traps set up in the forest, these are the first images of a tiger with offspring.

WWF has operated dozens of cameras throughout the central Sumatran province of Riau.

Karmila Parakkasi, the leader of WWF-Indonesia's Sumatran tiger research team, and her team first captured still images of the tigress and its cub in July 2009 through still camera traps. The photos were, however, not very clear.

"We were not so sure how many cubs there were," she said.

Video camera traps were then installed in September at the same location to clarify the initial findings.

WWF's tiger research team set up four of the video camera traps in known tiger routes in a forested "wildlife corridor" that allows animals to move between two protected areas in central Sumatra - Rimbang Baling Wildlife Reserve in Riau and Bukit Tigapuluh National Park in both Riau and Jambi provinces.

"When these cubs are old enough to leave their mother, which will be soon, they will have to find their own territory," said Ian Kosasih, WWF-Indonesia's Forest Programme Director.

"With this clear scientific evidence of tiger presence, WWF calls for formal establishment of the area between Rimbang Baling and Bukit Tigapuluh forests as a protected wildlife corridor," Kosasih said.

The discovery comes as WWF prepares to launch a campaign on 14 February, 2010, to coincide with the start of the Year of the Tiger in the Chinese calendar.

"We want to change the course of tiger conservation," said Mike Baltzer, leader of WWF's global Tiger Initiative.

"It's not just about saving the tiger from extinction, but about doubling their number by 2022," he added. (ANI)

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