Jungle tigers are turning into man-eaters in the exotic island of Sumatra. Now a maverick millionaire is catching the killers and releasing them on his land. Is this madness, or could it save them from extinction? Dr Alan Rabinowitz visits 12 killer tigers that are held in a prison, like a Tiger Alcatraz.
Tiger Island (Part 1)
The Indonesian island of Sumatra. Hiding deep in these forests are some of the world's most elusive big cats - Sumatran tigers. These tigers are in trouble. As they stray into the world of humans, many are killed or imprisoned. These are tigers accused of man-eating. Their future is bleak. But a controversial millionaire might save them. He is re-releasing tigers accused of man-eating. The world's leading tiger expert, Alan Rabinowitz, wants to investigate their impact. The experiment on Tiger Island could mean new hope for the world's tigers, or it could be a disaster.
The south-east Asian island of Sumatra is home to some of the richest and most diverse tropical forests on the planet. They house thousands of unique species and rare animals threatened with extinction. Here are the only great apes outside Africa - orangutans. Isolated on islands, animals evolve differently. The Sumatran tiger, the only remaining island tiger, is now the smallest in the world. It's rarely glimpsed in its natural habitat, and virtually all film of it is taken in captivity. The best images of it in the wild are captured on camera traps.
Tiger Island (Part 2)
The Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is a rare tiger subspecies that inhabits the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It has been listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List in 2008 as the population was estimated at 441 to 679 individuals, with no subpopulation larger than 50 individuals and a declining trend.
The Sumatran tiger is the only surviving member of the Sunda Islands group of tigers that included the now extinct Bali tiger and Javan tiger. Sequences from complete mitochondrial genes of 34 tigers support the hypothesis that Sumatran tigers are diagnostically distinct from mainland populations.
Tiger Island (Part 3)
Sumatran tigers persist in isolated populations across Sumatra.They occupy a wide array of habitats, ranging from sea level in the coastal lowland forest of Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park on the southeastern tip of Lampung Province to 3,200 m (10,500 ft) in mountain forests of Gunung Leuser National Park in Aceh Province. They have been repeatedly photographed at 2,600 m (8,500 ft) in a rugged region of northern Sumatra, and are present in 27 habitat patches larger than 250 km2 (97 sq mi).
In 1978, the Sumatran tiger population was estimated at 1,000 individuals, based on responses to a questionnaire survey. In 1985, a total of 26 protected areas across Sumatra containing about 800 tigers were identified. In 1992, an estimated 400–500 tigers lived in five national parks and two protected areas.
At that time, the largest population, comprising 110-180 individuals, was reported from the Gunung Leuser National Park. However, a more recent study shows that the Kerinci Seblat National Park in central Sumatra has the highest population of tigers on the island, estimated to be 165–190 individuals. The park also was shown to have the highest tiger occupancy rate of the protected areas, with 83% of the park showing signs of tigers. More tigers are in the Kerinci Seblat National Park than in all of Nepal, and more than in China, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam combined.