More than a thousand tigers prowled the Indonesian island of Sumatra when the animals were surveyed in 1978.
Today, fewer than half that number survive here and those cats are under siege by poachers and ceaseless deforestation of their home forests fueled by the pulp, paper, and palm oil industries.
A 2004 report from TRAFFIC, the IUCN/WWF effort to track the illegal wildlife trade, suggested that poachers were killing at least 40 of the critically endangered animals every year.
The Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is the last of the “island tiger” subspecies.
The neighboring Indonesian islands of Java and Bali were once home to their own distinct tigers, but the Bali tiger (Panthera tigris balica) and the Javan tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica) each died out during the 20th century.
Conservationists are working hard to help their Sumatran relatives avoid the same fate.
It goes without saying that you should be careful around lions and other wild animals, but that doesn’t mean that they are un-feeling, cold-blooded killers. Frikkie Von Solms, a 69-year-old lion caretaker in Southern Africa, knows this perfectly well: he has spent a long time raising Zion, a gentle, tender and loving African lion.
Zion was born in captivity to a lioness named Simba but had to be separated due to fears that his father would kill him.
Growing up with Von Solms, Zion has turned into a softie – when Von Solms goes for a walk with him, he takes his shoes off because their noise bothers the big cat.
“It was a once in a lifetime experience to grow up with him and learn and live with him through all of the stages of being a lion,” Von Solms told the Daily Mail.
“People talk about lions like they are just lions but they have personalities, they have humour and laugh.
Zion is a gentle giant. He has never attacked humans and I trust him completely.”