Panthera tigris ssp. sumatrae 

Scope: Global
Language: English

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Felidae

Scientific Name: Panthera tigris ssp. sumatrae Pocock, 1929
Parent Species:
Common Name(s):
English Sumatran Tiger
Panthera sumatrae Cracraft et al., 1998
Taxonomic Notes: The Sumatran Tiger is distinguishable from tigers elsewhere by both genetic (Cracraft et al. 1998, Luo et al. 2004) and morphological (Mazak and Groves 2006) analysis. It has been classically considered a subspecies since first named by Pocock (1929). The genetic analysis of Luo et al. (2004) supports this, but Cracraft et al. (1998) and Mazak and Groves (2006) have proposed that the differences are sufficient for the Sumatran Tiger be considered a distinct species.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered C2a(i) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Linkie, M., Wibisono, H.T., Martyr, D.J. & Sunarto, S.
Reviewer(s): Nowell, K., Breitenmoser-Wursten, C., Breitenmoser, U. (Cat Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
The Sumatran Tiger occurs in about 58,321 km² of forested habitat in 12 potentially isolated Tiger Conservation Landscapes totalling 88,351 km² (Sanderson et al. 2006), with about 37,000 km² protected in ten national parks (Govt of Indonesia 2007). The tiger population was estimated at 400-500 in the first and second national tiger action plans (Govt of Indonesia 1994, 2007a), and at 342-509 in six major protected areas (estimates from Shepherd and Magnus 2004). However, incorporating more recent research, covering most of tiger estimated habitat (Sanderson et al. 2006) suggests the population could be higher (see Table 1 in Supplementary Material).

There is no recent information from Berbak or Gunung Leuser, and both of these estimates are considered speculative. Completion of a research in the three Tiger Conservation Landscapes in Riau province by Sunarto et al. (2007) will improve efforts to assess the Sumatran Tiger population.

IUCN Guidelines (IUCN 2006) define population as the number of mature individuals, defined as “individuals known, estimated or inferred to be capable of reproduction.” While in general this refers to all reproductive-age adults in the population, the Guidelines also “stress that the intention of the definition of mature individuals is to allow the estimate of the number of mature individuals to take account of all the factors that may make a taxon more vulnerable than otherwise might be expected.” Two factors which increase the tiger's vulnerability to extinction are their low densities (relative to other mammals, including their prey species) and relatively low recruitment rates (where few animals raise offspring which survive to join the breeding population) (Smith and McDougal 1991, Kerley et al. 2003). Low densities means that relatively large areas are required for conservation of viable populations; it has long been recognized that many protected areas are too small to conserve viable tiger populations (Nowell and Jackson 1996, Dinerstein et al. 1997, Sanderson et al. 2006). Low recruitment rates also require larger populations and larger areas to conserve viable populations, as well as mortality reduction in non-protected areas to maintain population size through connectivity (Carroll and Miquelle 2006). High mortality rates can be offset by an abundant prey base (Karanth et al. 2006), but prey base depletion was considered a leading threat to tigers across much of their range (Sanderson et al. 2006). The IUCN Guidelines advise that “mature individuals that will never produce new recruits should not be counted.” Low recruitment rates indicate that fewer adults than would be expected produce new recruits. Defining population size as the total estimated number of reproductive age adults in the taxon would also not take into account that many occur in subpopulations which are too small or too threatened for long-term viability. Instead, the number of mature individuals is defined as equivalent to the estimated effective population size.

Effective population size (Ne) is an estimator of the genetic size of the population, and is generally considered representative of the proportion of the total adult population (N) which reproduces itself through offspring which themselves survive and reproduce. Ne is usually smaller than N, as has been documented for the tiger. The effective population size of tigers in Nepal’s Chitwan National Park was equivalent to just 40% of the actual adult population (Smith and McDougal 1991). Therefore, the number of viable mature Sumatran tigers is projected to be 40% of the total estimated population, in the range of 176–271 (based on the detailed figures given above), with no subpopulation having an effective population size larger than 50, following the precautionary principle in selecting the lower bound subpopulation sizes for Kerinci Seblat, Gunung Leuser and Bukit Tigapuluh.

The Sumatran Tiger is declining due to high rates of habitat loss (3.2–5.9%/yr; Achard et al. 2002, FWI/GFW 2001, Uryu et al. 2007) and fragmentation, which also occur, to a lesser extent, inside protected areas (Gaveau et al. 2007, Kinnaird et al. 2003, Linkie et al. 2003, 2004, 2006). There are high levels of human-tiger conflict (Nyhus and Tilson 2004, Browne and Martyr 2007), as well as illegal trade in tiger parts (Nowell 2000, Nowell 2007). From 1998-2002 at least 51 tigers per year were killed, with 76% for purposes of trade and 15% out of human-tiger conflict (Shepherd and Magnus 2004). Ng and Nemora (2007) found the parts of at least 23 tigers for sale in market surveys around the island.
For further information about this species, see 15966_Panthera_tigris_sumatrae.pdf.
A PDF viewer such as Adobe Reader is required.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Countries occurrence:
Indonesia (Sumatera)
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Habitat loss due to expansion of oil palm plantations and planting of Acacia plantations. Illegal trade, primarily for domestic market. Prey-base depletion.

Bibliography [top]

Achard, F., Eva, H.D., Stibig, H.J., Mayaux, P., Gallego, J., Richards, T. and Malingreau, J.P. 2002. Determination of deforestation rates of the world's humid tropical forests. Science 297: 999-1002.

Browne, S. and Martyr, D. 2007. FFI's Sumatran Tiger Protection and Conservation Program. In: J. Hughes and R. Mercer (eds), Felid Biology and Conservation Conference 17-20 September: Abstracts, pp. 118. WildCRU, Oxford, UK.

Carroll, C. and Miquelle, D. G. 2006. Spatial viability analysis of Amur tiger Panthera tigris altaica in the Russian Far East: The role of protected areas and landscape matrix in population persistence. Journal of Applied Ecology 43: 1056-1068.

Cracraft, J., Feinstein, J., Vaughn, J. and Helm-Bychowski, K. 1998. Sorting out tigers (Panthera tigris): mitochondrial sequences, nuclear inserts, systematics, and conservation genetics. Animal Conservation 1: 139.

Dinerstein, E., Wikramanayake, E. D., Robinson, J., Karanth, U., Rabinowitz, A., Olson, D., Mathew, T., Hedao, P., Connor, P., Hemley, G. and Bolze, D. 1997. A Framework for Identifying High Priority Areas and Actions for the Conservation of Tigers in the Wild. A Framework for Identifying High Priority Areas and Actions for the Conservation of Tigers in the Wild.

Forest Watch Indonesia and Global Forest Watch. 2001. Potret keadaan hutan Indonesia. Forest Watch Indonesia and Global Forest Watch, Bogor.

Franklin, N., Bastoni, S., Dwiatmo, S., Manansang, J. and Tilson, R. 1999. Last of the Indonesian tigers: a cause for optimism. In: J. Seidensticker, S. Christie and P. Jackson (eds), Riding the tiger: Tiger conservation in human-dominated landscapes, pp. 131-147. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Gaveau, D.L.A., Wandonoc, H. and Setiabudid, F. 2007. Three decades of deforestation in southwest Sumatra: Have protected areas halted forest loss and logging, and promoted re-growth? Biological Conservation 134(4): 495–504.

Government of Indonesia. 2007a. Conservation Strategy and Action Plan of Sumatran Tiger 2007-2017 (in Bahasa Indonesia).

Government of Indonesia. 2007b. Indonesia country report. Presentation for the 4th International Tiger Symposium, Global Tiger Forum. State Forest Administration, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Govt of Indonesia (ed.). 1994. Sumatran tiger report: Population and Habitat Viability Analysis.In: R. L. Tilson, K. Soemarna, W. Ramno, S. Lusli, K. Traylor-Holzer and U. S. Seal (eds), IUCN CBSG.

Griffiths, M. 1992. Management of Large Mammals - Project progress report.

IUCN. 2006. Guidelines for using the IUCN Red List categories and criteria (vers. 6.2). IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN. 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 5 October 2008).

Karanth, K. U., Nichols, J. D., Kumar, N. S. and Hines, J. E. 2006. Assessing tiger population dynamics using photographic capture-recapture sampling. Ecology 87: 2925-2937.

Kerley, L. L., Goodrich, J. M., Miquelle, D. G., Quigley, H. B., Hornocker, M. G. and Smirnov, E. N. 2003. Reproductive parameters of wild female Amur (Siberian) tigers (Panthera tigris altaica). Journal of Mammalogy 84: 288-298.

Kinnaird, M.F., Sanderson, E.W., O'Brien, S.J., Wibisono, H.T. and Woolmer G. 2003. Deforestation trends in a tropical landscape and implications for endangered large mammals. Conservation Biology 17(1): 245–257.

Linkie, M., Chapron, G., Martyr, D. J., Holden, J. and Leader-Williams, N. 2006. Assessing the viability of tiger subpopulations in a fragmented landscape. Journal of Applied Ecology 43: 576-586.

Linkie, M., Martyr, D. J., Holden, J., Yanuar, A., Hartana, A. T., Sugardjito, J. and Leader-Williams, N. 2003. Habitat destruction and poaching threaten the Sumatran tiger in Kerinci Seblat National Park, Sumatra. Oryx 37: 41-48.

Linkie, M., Smith, R. J. and Leader-Williams, N. 2004. Mapping and predicting deforestation patterns in the lowlands of Sumatra. Biodiversity and Conservation 13: 1809-1818.

Luo, S.J., Kim, J.H., Johnson, W.E., Van Der Walt, J., Martenson, J., Yuhki, N., Miquelle, D.G., Uphyrkina, O., Goodrich, J.M., Quigley, H., Tilson, R., Brady, G., Martelli, P., Subramaniam, V., Mcdougal, C., Hean, S., Huang, S.Q., Pan, W., Karanth, U.K., Sunquist, M., Smith, J.L.D. and O'Brien, S.J. 2004. Phylogeography and genetic ancestry of tigers (Panthera tigris). PLoS Biology 2: 2275-2293.

Mazak, J.H. and Groves, C.P. 2006. A taxonomic revision of the tigers (Panthera tigris) of Southeast Asia. Mammalian Biology 71(5): 268-287.

Ng, J. and Nemora. 2007. Tiger trade revisited in Sumatra, Indonesia. TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, Petaling Jaya.

Nowell, K. 2000. Far from a cure: The tiger trade revisited. TRAFFIC International, Cambridge, UK.

Nowell,K. 2007. Asian big cat conservation and trade control in selected range States: evaluating implementation and effectiveness of CITES Recommendations. TRAFFIC International, Cambridge, UK.

Nowell, K. and Jackson, P. 1996. Wild Cats. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Nyhus, P. J. and Tilson, R. 2004. Characterizing human-tiger conflict in Sumatra, Indonesia: Implications for conservation. Oryx 38: 68-74.

Pocock, R. I. 1929. Tigers. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 33: 505.

Sanderson, E., Forrest, J., Loucks, C., Ginsberg, J., Dinerstein, E., Seidensticker, J., Leimgruber, P., Songer, M., Heydlauff, A., O'Brien, T., Bryja, G., Klenzendorf, S and Wikramanayake, E. 2006. Setting Priorities for the Conservation and Recovery of Wild Tigers: 2005-2015. The Technical Assessment. WCS, WWF, Smithsonian, and NFWF-STF, New York and Washington, DC, USA.

Shepherd, C. R. and Magnus, N. 2004. Nowhere to hide: The Trade in Sumatran Tiger.

Smith, J. L. D. and Mcdougal, C. W. 1991. The Contribution of Variance in Lifetime Reproduction to Effective Population Size in Tigers. Conservation Biology 5(4): 484.

Sunarto, S., Klenzendorf, S., Hutajulu, M. B., Kelly, M., Vaughan, M. and Nichols, J. 2007. Sumatran tigers in Riau: Estimating abundance in three major habitat types. In: J. Hughes and R. Mercer (eds), Felid Biology and Conservation Conference 17-20 September: Abstracts, pp. 120. WildCRU, Oxford, UK.

Wibisono, H. T. and Arif, S. M. 2007. Population and ecology of Sumatran tiger in the Batan Gadis Nationa Park: a preliminary study. Conservation International Indonesia, Indonesia.

Citation: Linkie, M., Wibisono, H.T., Martyr, D.J. & Sunarto, S. 2008. Panthera tigris ssp. sumatrae. In: . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T15966A5334836. . Downloaded on 26 September 2018.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided