Sumatran Tigers, Close to Extinction
This article is brought to you by the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP). Read our other articles on the National Geographic Voices blog featuring the work of our iLCP Fellow Photographers all around the world.
Text and Photos by iLCP Fellow Paul Hilton
As I raise my camera and look into the eyes of Agus Salim, I don’t see a tiger trader; I see a businessman, well-dressed and calculated; a man who provides a service for the ever-increasing global demand for wildlife and wildlife products. Evidence of that demand is lying next to him in the form of the skin and bones of two critically endangered Sumatran tiger cubs, carrying a street value of 100 million rupiah (US$ 7,595).
Salim belongs to a wildlife crime syndicate operating in and around the Leuser Ecosystem, one of Southeast Asia’s last great intact forests, and a world-renowned biodiversity hot spot where the region’s remaining rhinos, tigers, orangutans, and elephants coexist.
But Salim is a small fish, and, therefore, expendable. He was set up by an undercover agent and arrested by a team from the special criminal detective unit of the Aceh police and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s crime unit during a three month investigation in Bireun, a northeastern coastal town in Aceh, Sumatra.