Page last updated at 11:04 GMT, Thursday, 21 January 2010

Indonesia mulls adoptions to preserve Sumatran tigers

A young Sumatran tiger photographed by a camera trap in Rimbang Baling - Bukit Tigapuluh, in Indonesia's Riau province on 24 July 2009 - WWF handout photo
This rare glimpse of a Sumatran tiger in the wild was taken by a camera trap

To conserve the dwindling numbers of rare Sumatran tigers, Indonesia is considering entrusting them to private individuals for safe-keeping.

Under the plan, Indonesian citizens would have to pay $100,000 (£62,000) to adopt and look after a pair of the critically endangered felines.

There about 200 of the big cats left in the wild, down from 1,000 in the 1970s.

Conservationists say a better plan would be to save the tigers' natural habitat from destruction.

Much of the forest they live in has been has been lost to illegal logging and deforestation.

The tigers' numbers have been further depleted by poaching to supply parts for souvenirs, Chinese medicine and jewellery.

Indonesian forestry officials confirmed to the BBC that they were considering the adoption plan as a serious option to stave off the extinction of the sub-species.

The Sumatran tiger is listed as critically endangered, the highest category of threat.

Forestry officials say they have learned valuable lessons from the case of the Balinese mynah bird which at one point was close to extinction, says the BBC's Karishma Vaswani in Jakarta.

After the birds were offered up to the public to look after, they bred faster and are now no longer in danger of dying out, our correspondent adds.

Prospective tiger owners do have a few conditions to meet: They need to have at least 4,900 sq metres (53,000 sq feet) of land - about the size of a football field - and the tigers would remain the property of the Indonesian government.

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