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BRIN researchers discover tracks of Javan tiger thought to be extinct

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Jakarta, IO – Researchers from the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) found tracks of a Javan tiger in South Sukabumi, West Java.

The researchers found a sample of a strand of hair from an animal known by its Latin name Panthera tigris sondaica on a fence separating a resident’s garden and a village road in South Sukabumi, per Kompas, Mon (25/3).

This confirmation was obtained after BRIN researchers carried out a series of DNA tests on the hair which was discovered by researcher Kalih Reksasewu based on a report by a resident named Ripi Yanuar Fajar who encountered an animal resembling a Javanese tiger declares as extinct on August 19, 2019.

Wirdateti, a researcher with BRIN’s Biosystematics and Evolution Research Center, explained that after carrying out a series of DNA analyses, her team concluded that the hair sample was part of a Javanese tiger.

The hair sample also matches the Javanese tiger specimen collected by the Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense (MZB) in 1930. According to Wirdateti, this thesis was corroborated by other scientific procedures that had been carried out.

Apart from finding hair, at that location also found scratch marks similar to a tiger’s, which prompted Widarteti to carry out further observations.

Initial identification was carried out by comparing other subspecies of tiger samples such as the Bengal tiger, Amur tiger, Sumatran tiger and Javan leopard.

After comparison, the hair samples in Sukabumi showed a similarity of 97.06 percent to Sumatran tiger and 96.87 percent to Bengal tiger.

“Meanwhile, the Javanese tiger specimen from the MZB collection has 98.23 percent similarity to the Sumatran tiger,” explained Wirdateti.

Meanwhile, the results of the phylogenetic tree study show that hair samples from Sukabumi and tiger specimens from the MZB collection are in the same group, but separate from other tiger subspecies groups.

To support her observation, Teti and her team also conducted an in-depth interview with Ripi who saw the tiger on June 15-19, 2022 at the location where the hair samples were found.

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The Javan tiger was previously declared extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) based on an assessment in 2008. The species was last seen in Meru Betiri National Park, East Java in 1976.

Javan tiger is endemic to the island of Java and is widespread in lowland forests, bushes and plantations. However, massive hunting of Javanese tigers and land conversion are putting pressure on its population.

Teti explained that the DNA test results from a sample of a strand of hair seemed to give a glimmer of hope regarding the presence of the Javan tiger. Nevertheless, Wirdateti said that confirmation and further genetic studies are still needed to confirm the existence of the Javan tiger. (un)

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