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York University Expert Heads to Sumatra As Flamingo Land Tigers Arrive

Tiger Cub

4:33pm 23rd May 2014

An academic from York’s Environment Department is to embark on conservation work in Sumatra following the birth of three critically endangered Sumatran tiger cubs at Flamingo Land, Yorkshire.

The three cubs, two females and a male, were born to parents Surya (mother) and Bawa (father) on 22 March. Dr Andy Marshall, an Environment lecturer at the University of York and Director of Conservation Science at Flamingo Land, will now travel to Sumatra next year to investigate the potential for further protection of the species in their native country.

The Sumatran tiger is one of the most endangered subspecies of tiger, with recent estimates suggesting only 440 individuals remain in the wild. They are threatened by the illegal trade in tiger parts, as well as the loss of their native habitat in Indonesia, where rainforests are being cut down to create oil palm plantations at a rate of 3-6 per cent every year.

In an attempt to halt this decline, Sumatran tigers have been made part of an international breeding programme, with over 250 individuals in zoos worldwide and pairings carefully selected to maximise genetic diversity.

Alongside increasing the captive population, Dr Marshall now hopes to further their conservation in the wild by improving the environment in Sumatra itself. Conducting field-based research, he aims to find out more about Sumatran tigers’ natural habitat and talk to local people and conservation NGO’s to better understand the country and the options for conservation improvements.

Dr Andy Marshall said: “This is a significant event for tigers worldwide. The viable wild Sumatran tiger population is below 300 individuals and an approximately equivalent number form part of the global conservation breeding efforts by zoos. This is one of many species dependent on zoos for survival, through both breeding and fundraising for field conservation efforts.”

The new-born cubs at Flamingo Land will stay with their mother for up to two years before being moved on to other zoos as part of the international breeding programme

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