Three Sumatran tigers have been found dead after being caught in traps in Indonesia.
A female and a male tiger were found dead on Sunday with leg injuries caused by a snare trap near a palm oil plantation in Aceh province on Sumatra island, local police chief Hendra Sukmana said.
The body of another female tiger was found hours later about 500 metres away with a snare still stuck in her almost-severed neck and legs, he said.
The authorities have appealed to the community and plantation companies not to set snares in forest areas where wild animals may cross.
An autopsy is being carried out by a team of veterinarians to determine the cause of the tigers’ death, according to Agus Arianto, who heads the conservation agency in Aceh.
Mr Arianto said: “We strongly condemned this incident and will cooperate with law enforcement agencies in an investigation.”
He added that several traps similar to ones used to capture wild boars on farms were found in the area around the dead tigers.
Under Indonesia’s Conservation of Natural Resources and Ecosystems law, those who intentionally kill protected animals face up to five years in prison and a fine of 100 million rupiah ($7,000).
Sumatran tigers are the most critically endangered subspecies and are under increasing pressure due to poaching and a shrinking jungle habitat, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list of threatened species.
Only 400 left in the wild
It is believed that only around 400 Sumatran tigers remain in the wild.
Conservationists say the pandemic has resulted in increased poaching as villagers turn to hunting to supplement diminished incomes.
In October, a female tiger was found dead with injuries caused by a snare trap in Bukit Batu wildlife reserve in the Bengkalis district of Riau province, just two months after three tigers, including two cubs, were found dead in the Leuser Ecosystem Area, a forested region for tiger conservation in Aceh and North Sumatra provinces.
Aceh police also arrested four men last June for allegedly catching a tiger with a snare trap and selling its remains for 100 million rupiah ($7,000).
Just a few days later, another Sumatran tiger died after it ate a goat laced with rat poison in neighbouring North Sumatra province.
A baby elephant died last November after losing half her trunk to a trap set by poachers who prey on the endangered species.