The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
A wild male Sumatran tiger missing one paw has been captured on camera inside Tesso Nilo National Park and is believed to be the animal that escaped a hunter's trap last year by chewing its own paw off.
A wildlife conservation camera placed inside the Riau national park by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), one of the world's largest and most respected conservation organizations, captured in March four photographs of the three-pawed tiger walking and seemingly coping well after his ordeal.
The same tiger was photographed in a different location in May this year walking in the forest.
On both scenes, the tiger appears to be in good physical condition.
The Sumatran tiger is the most critically endangered tiger subspecies in the world. There are less than 400 left in the wild and WWF said it holds grave fears for the animal.
The tigers continue to live under constant threat because they are hunted for sale on the black market and their habitat is rapidly being replaced by agricultural and logging operations.
Some traps are set specifically by poachers to catch tigers, while most are designed to catch other animals for villagers' meat supplies or as a means of pest control.
WWF-Indonesia's tiger survey and monitoring coordinator, Sunarto, said the situation was upsetting because it had taken place inside a national park where the tiger was supposed to be protected.
"This tiger looks like he's in good condition in our photos, but his future is uncertain," Sunarto said.
"The Sumatran tiger population is at such low levels, we can't afford to lose even one to a snare."
WWF is currently working with national park management and the Natural Resource Conservation Office (BKSDA) in Riau to increase tiger conservation awareness, decrease the use of snares and rid the forest of illegal huntsman.
Since 2005, WWF and BKSDA's anti-poaching teams have confiscated at least 101 snares -- 75 of which were inside the protected areas of Tesso Nilo National Park and Rimbang Baling Wildlife Reserve.
Of the 101 snares, 23 were specifically targeted tigers, while the rest were used for wild boar and sunbears.
Sunarto said the use of snares was every day bringing the Sumatran tiger one step closer to extinction, but that the very primitive hunting system also put villagers and domestic animals in danger.
"When a tiger is sick or crippled, its ability to hunt and catch natural prey is reduced significantly," he said.
"As a result, such tigers search for food in nearby villages, attacking livestock or even people."