The Javan tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica) is a subspecies of tiger that lived uniquely on the island of Java, in Indonesia. It became extinct at the beginning of the 1980s, mainly due to deforestation, hunting and the loss of its prey.
At the beginning of the 20th century, as the human population on Java increased, so did related human activity and agricultural land use. Hunted and killed by local populations, the Javan tiger also suffered the destruction of its habitat through the expansion of rice fields, teck forests, and coffee and hevea plantations. These crops invaded the Indonesian island and replaced natural spaces, forcing all fauna to survive in ever-shrinking areas, poor in biodiversity.
The scarcity of its two favourite prey: Javan rusa deer (Rusa timorensis) and wild boar (Sus scrofa), and modification of its habitat forced the tiger to look for new sources of nutrition. Monkeys become the feline’s main prey. Sadly, in order to feed, it entered into competition with another big cat, much more adapted to primate-hunting (which are arboreal): the Javan leopard (Panthera pardus melas). Thus, the last know specimen of Javan tiger was seen in 1976*. In the absence of its natural habitat and available prey, the subspecies disappeared.
Preserving tiger habitats, in all their biodiversity, is an essential part of preventing the extinction of the species. This is what we have been doing in Nepal since 2009, in the context of our tiger conservation programme, which is based within local communities. There, we carry out actions to reduce usage of natural resources from the Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve where the Bengal tiger lives.
*According to the IUCN
Javan tiger / 1938 © Andries Hoogerwerf