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Animal: Sumatran Tiger
Research Location: Bukit Baisan Selatan National Park, Sumatra Indonesia

Why This Animal?

The tiger is one of the most majestic animals to me. It is the largest cat species and I think their fur is very beautiful. Most tigers have reddish-orange fur with a lighter belly and dark vertical stripes. They are a very unique and beautiful. Another reason that the tiger interests me is because according to the Chinese, I was born in the "year of the tiger." I learned this when I was very young and have been interested in the tiger ever since. I learned more about them and when I was younger, my answer to what my favorite animals was always the tiger and still is. The tiger is a threatened species which is sad because although the tiger is dangerous, they are beautiful and do not deserve to become extinct. I find the tiger very fasinating and maybe thats because thet are not an animals you see in your everyday lifestyle. Animals that are different and unique seem to fasinate everyone since they are so foreign. I think I have always been interested in big jungle cats and part of what probably influencd that was watching "The Loin King" and "The Jungle Book." This is what has influenced me to choose the tiger as my animal.

Research Location:

My research location is the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in Sumatra. We have just arrived at the headquarters to take a look at the tiger here and the first thing I notice is that it is incredibly humid here! The Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park is a lowland rain forest biome. They tell me that the temperatures here average between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Like I said, it is humid so I wasn’t at all surprised when they told me the humidity is always above 60 percent. The location of the headquarters is on the eastern part of the island and is one of the dryer areas, but in the west it is much wetter because they are going through the monsoon season, which means they have heavy rain. The monsoon season in the west is during November to May. The eastern side of the islands monsoon season is during February to October. To be more specific, the amount of rainfall here averages from 2,500 to 3,000 millimeters each year.
A little while later in the afternoon, our research group decided to take a hike around the park and observe our surroundings. This national park mainly focuses on protecting the Sumatran rhino, Sumatran elephant, and the Sumatran tiger. Although the tigers are carnivores, they only rarely eat an elephant or rhino. I continue my hike, not in much luck of spotting a tiger but I have noticed quite a few rhinos, filling themselves with the grass on the ground and picking berries off bushes. I have also noticed there are so many birds here; it’s incredible! One of them looks to me like a ground cuckoo, and I can sure hear its chirp from quite a distance. I can also see what looks like a white-winged duck waddling around on its big, flat feet. Birds are flying and calling out to each other all around me, and then I can see the enormous elephants in the distance, pounding the ground with each step they take, ears flopping all around. Then finally, while I’m recording all my thoughts in my journal, the birds go quiet. I look up, and while I am still very far away, I see the majestic tiger with massive paws that cover an enormous distance when it walks. How incredible! It’s ears cock as it listens to all the noises of the forest and its eyes turn to slits. The tiger crouches down, as if stalking its prey and has extrodinary techique because it is silent as is steps forward. I watch and record what the tigers doing for quite sometime, but then it comes the time when I need to get back to camp. On my way back, I take in more information of the plants I see. There are all kinds of shrubs, and of course the trees that stand so high it looks like the leaves are reaching for the sun. The top of them look like an umbrella.There’s orchids of all different colors, bamboo, and even what look to be rattans with their vine structure and long leaves. This forest is so diverse with all these plants and animals! Well, I’m back at camp now and it’s dark so I’ll wait till next time to record more of my thoughts.
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Food Web:


Wildlife Monitoring Technique:
I used the radio telemetry technique to help me observe the tiger. I did this by putting collars on the tigers and then observing their location and what they were doing by beeping of their collars. I also took some notes to conclude what I thought the tiger might have been doing. I think by using this technique I will be able to learn more about what the tiger does with it's time, instead of using a motion sensor camera that only takes pictues of where the tiger is at the time. Now I can locate the tiger and observe if its resting or moving. Here are my results!
Here are some notes I have recorded:

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Observation Journal:

Day 1:Today was my first real observation day of the Sumatran tiger! It is as hot and humid as always and my guide and I have decided to go observe some of the behaviors of the tiger. We decide to hike instead of taking a jeep because we knew we would have to cross some rivers and streams. From what I know, the Sumatran tiger is smaller than most tigers and is also faster because of it. As we travel farther and farther into the tropical lowland rainforest, the plants and trees are as green as ever and I can see something moving farther down one of the paths. It is the Sumatran tiger! The tiger seems to have excellent camouflage because it seems as if it’s orange and black fur kind of blends in with the light of the sun. Their color patterns also seem to help the tiger hide in all the dense and thick bushes because I didn’t see it until it was right in front of me! The tiger has huge paws but seems very light on its feet. Those monster paws seem like they would be great for swimming through dense currents in the river. Maybe thats why the Sumatran tiger is such a good swimmer. The tiger also has long whiskers and longer fur on each side of its face. This is interesting to me so I ask my guide if she knows why the tiger has longer fur then most on the side of its face. She tells me that’s how you tell the male and female Sumatran tiger apart, because the males are the only ones with well-defined fur on their neck. Maybe that helps protect its face from going through all the bushes? This tiger is by itself because tigers are solitary animals, unless a female has her cubs with her or a female and male tiger are mating. Mating season is all year long and the males cover quite a large territory to find females to mate with. My guide and I decide to follow the tiger for a while, from a long distance of course. When it leaps, it seems to at least cover 10 feet in distance! The tiger is such a strong animal, escpecially in its hind legs where it pushes off to leap the distance is does. As the tiger wanders farther through the rainforest, it comes to a small river or stream. Immediately without hesitation, the tiger plunges into the water and paddles across the river without ease! Sumatran tigers seem to be pro swimmers, so I wonder if they could possibly have some sort of webbing between their big claws. Then it occurs to me that the water must feel great to the tiger. It’s really hot out today and I know if I was a tiger with long fur I would need to place to cool off. This must be a regular routine to cool off. I have discovered quiet a few things about the Sumatran tiger today, and decide to not cross the river and follow it any further. We head back to camp and I keep thinking to myself that I can’t wait to get more glimpse of this fascinating animal.

Day 2:Today was the same routine: get up, eat breakfast, and head out into the rainforest in search of the Sumatran tiger! Today, instead of coming across a male Sumatran tiger, we got to see a female and her cubs! She has only two at the moment, and I notice something today I didn’t see yesterday. There are unusually large white spots of fur on the back of the cubs and mothers ears. It’s so crazy because they seem to make the cubs look bigger. I ask the guide, and she says that the spots help to protect the young cubs from predators because it serves as a false eye and makes the cubs appear bigger. I can see why it would protect the cubs, but the mother doesn’t really have any worries about predators because the Sumatran tiger is at the top of the food chain and helps keep so the herbivores don’t over-populate. The mother would catch prey for her and her young by stealth and then sudden attack. She would creep silently though the bushes on the ground of the rainforest and pounce on a wild pig. The dense leaves were perfect cover for sneaking up on prey. Like I said, the tigers don't let the herbivores and omnivores over-populate.The mother and her cubs don’t cross as much ground as the male tiger did yesterday, so maybe the females aren’t as territorial. There is also another thing that surprises me yet again. When the mother and cubs went through all the bushes, it seemed like stripes on their fur visually split the body apart! That is what I call pro camouflage! Well, seems like we start heading back to camp after another day of discoveries.

Day 3:Today I have decided to find out more about the relationship between male Sumatran tigers. The male tigers would fight for territory, and when I say fight I mean by trying to intimidate each other. They roared, hissed, and growled and they seemed to be threatening each other by chocking and twisting their ears towards their opponent. Finally, one male was scared and gave up so it fled what is now the other male’s territory. The loser of this “fight” now has to find knew territory to feed and live and that might mean he will have to stand up to another male. The winner of this fight now not only gets much more prey, but has more females on his territory because the females don’t cover near as much land and are not territorial. This male tiger marks his territory by urinating on the trees.The behaviors of tigers fascinate me and I can’t wait to do more research!

Day 4: Today was a dud. I didn’t have any chances to see the Sumatran tiger, but I did go and explore more of the territory that these tigers live in. I have tracked three tigers so far, two males and one female, but one of the males is probably long gone in another section of the forest since it lost a fight. I have decided to look more into the female tiger since she has cubs. I have decided to name her Leah and I am excited to see more of her and her cubs. As I travel farther into the forest, I see lots of little ponds or pools I guess you could say. These are useful to the tiger because like I have said before, I helps them cool off. I wonder if other animals use them to cool off too? All the dense bushes and trees would help the tiger while hunting, but they must have to walk very light on their feet if they don’t want to make any noise. Just then I hear rustleing in the trees and I look up and there is an oragutan! Then I realize that I have never seen a tiger in a tree, or even a low branch. I know that the tigers have long claws and are strong so I would think they would be able to climb a tree, but maybe they weight to much or are just to lazy. As the orangutan jumps from brach to branch and then leaps to the ground, I can see why the tiger would need to use stealth and catch it's prey from behind!

Day 6:
I am getting closer and closer to my last days here in Sumatra,Indonesia, so my guide and some other researchers and I have decided to go on a late night exploration for the tiger. We need to be very careful because you never know what you could find! I put a radio telemetry collar on Leah, the female tiger, and was excited to see that she was very active at night. The group I’m with heads out into the lowland rainforest to see what more information we can find. We hike around the forest as quietly as we can for quite some time with no luck of seeing Leah or another tiger. We decide to go close to a little water pool or pond to see if there is any evidence that a tiger has been here lately when bam! Our question is answered! Off in the distance I can see a male tiger, quiet as can be, stalking through the bushes. He jumps a lengthy distance, man they must have some strong leg muscles, and with one swift of a paw takes out a young wild pig. The rest of the pig’s family or herd runs away but they don’t bother about not making any noise! It is really fascinating to see the tiger catch his prey. He takes advantage of bush, rock, or tree to hide behind…he’s a master! I’m so lucky to have learned so much about the tiger and I hope I will be able to share more with you soon!

Using the Research:

Fellow Researcher Profile:

I am fascinated by Karmila Parakkasi. Karmila is the survey and monitoring coordinator if WWF Indonesia’s Sumatran tiger research team. She is the only female on the team, but she says she doesn’t mind because she just wants to save the Sumatran tiger. I call that some major inspiration because she has dedicated herself to researching and finding out more about the tiger! In 2010, she started a campaign for the “year of the tiger” based on the Chinese calendar to help raise money for her research and for tigers. She says she wants to “change the course of tiger conservation,” since there are only about four-hundred Sumatran tigers left in the wild! Her main concern is to solve and stop problems like poaching and habitat destruction. She is also studying relationships between tigers and humans. I admire how much effort Karmila puts into helping this amazing animal.

One way that Karmila Parakkasi and her team learn more about Sumatran tigers and their behaviors is by putting up camera traps in the Sumatran jungle that take pictures or videos when they sense body heat. This takes tons of time, money and effort because Karmila and her team have to put these cameras all over the jungle. Not only that, they also have to know where to put the cameras so they have the highest probability to actually catch a tiger on tape. They identify the tigers by their stripes. Recently, Karmila made a huge accomplishment because she caught a female tiger with her cubs on tape! That was the first time her team has done that. The cubs were messing around and decided to go check out and sniff the camera. Karmila is now offering a protected area for the Sumatran tigers where they have seen them most on tape. I admire Karmila Parakkasi for all the hard work she does for these animals. I think what she does is a great example for what we should do, make a difference. She has so much passion for nature and these animals and works her hardest to protect them and I think we should try to do the same.

external image Camera%20set.jpg?__SQUARESPACE_CACHEVERSION=1263592017155 - This is Karmila Parakkasi setting up a camera trap, which is what she uses to research Sumatran tigers.


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