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Sunday, November 8, 1998 Published at 17:54 GMT

World: Asia-Pacific

Tigers feel economic squeeze

Donations of kangaroo meat have provided some relief

Jonathan Head: Bleak future for tigers
Indonesia may once have been numbered among Asia's tiger economies - but now the tigers themselves are the latest victims of the downturn affecting the region.

Zookeepers at the Taman Safari Park have been forced to cut rations for the park's population of Sumatran tigers, because they lack the funds to buy meat.

In the past few months, food prices in Indonesia have soared, while the economic squeeze means that fewer people can afford to visit the park, which has led to a drop in revenue.

Some relief has come in the form of 16 tons of frozen kangaroo meat, a gift from Australian schoolchildren, who saved pocket money to make the donation.

This has allowed the park authorities to devote their limited funds to the most important part of their work, the breeding and conservation programme.

Poaching and the destruction of natural habitats have brought the Sumatran tigers close to extinction in the past, which makes it all the more important that a breeding population is retained in captivity in the park.

But with the Australian donation providing only a temporary solution, the tigers' future is not burning bright.

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