Sumatran tigers are having a tough time. Because of habitat loss in the Indonesian rainforest, this big Asian cat is among the most endangered species in the world: Only 400 of them are left in the wild. (There’s some incredible footage of them here.) The major force driving the clear-cutting around their home is Asia Pulp & Paper, a vast paper company that wields a lot of power; its clients include Disney and several major toy manufacturers.
Earlier this month, in Riau, Indonesia, one of the 400 tigers stumbled into a snare set by villagers who wanted to catch pigs. When Indonesian conservationists learned of the situation a few days later, they sent in a rescue team to free the tiger, which by that point was badly wounded. Watch the video (footage courtesy of Greenpeace; edited by my MoJo colleague Jen Quraishi) to see what happens. Warning: The video is fairly graphic.
According to zoologist Tom Maddox, country coordinator for Indonesia at the Zoological Society of London, Indonesia has lost 40 percent of its forest cover in the last 50 years. The deforestation has been particularly intense in the last decade: Between 2000 and 2005, loggers cleared an area the size of Portugal. Today, roads slice through the few remaining places where tigers live, meaning tiger-human conflicts are increasingly common. The villagers who set the pig trap didn’t mean to ensnare a tiger, but because of clear-cutting, they could easily reach the formerly remote corners of the forest that used to belong to the tigers.
Asia Pulp & Paper, which logs regularly in the area in Riau where the tiger was trapped, has come under fire for its habitat-destroying practices. In turn, American companies that buy from APP have been criticized for doing business with APP. The outcry has yielded some positive changes: Last month, as a result of a Greenpeace campaign, Mattel promised to stop buying from APP.
Disney, on the other hand, issued this statement last week: “Due to the urgency of the deforestation issues in Indonesia, Disney is asking all its licensees, vendors and suppliers to avoid using paper or fiber from Indonesia that does not meet the FSC-Controlled Wood Standard until needed reforms to stop further clearance of natural rainforests are implemented.”
Which is a start, I guess, but it’s awfully light on specifics. It doesn’t even name APP. And if someone politely requested that I “avoid” eating the chocolate-chip cookie I’ve stashed in my desk drawer, well, my chances of leaving said cookie intact would be very slim indeed.