In what might be one of the most unorthodox methods of preserving an endangered species, the government of Indonesia announced recently that it will begin authorizing individuals to adopt the imperiled Sumatran Tigers to raise as pets. Groups committed to the protection of the animal were taken aback by the decision, believing that it is the government's obligation to protect the nearly 200 tigers living in the wild. Still, those able to afford the $100 thousand price-tag to adopt one of the big cats seem pleased to have the chance. According to the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry, many wealthy businessmen have already shown interest in adopting one of the tigers.Along with the hefty adoption fee, the ministry requires those interested in raising one of the tigers to comply with certain guidelines, namely that the animals are given a minimum of 60 square meters (645 sq/ft). Also, the ministry insists that the animals will remain state property:
We do not sell or rent the tigers, which will continue to belong to the state. We only authorized people to take care of them. They will have to do this, observing a number of conditions.
Currently, there are 30 Sumatran Tigers in captivity available for adoption, according to a report from Folha.
Some animal protection groups aren't convinced that adopting the tigers is the best way to ensure their survival. Deforestation on the tiger's native island of Sumatra is a serious problem and continues to threaten the habitat of the few remaining wild cats.
A spokesman for Greenpeace South East Asia:
This is not a solution to save the tigers. [It's] better to save the forests where they live.
Others fear that poaching will further reduce the numbers of tigers, particularly as the celebrations for the Year of the Tiger begin in February.
Admittedly, the first thing that came to mind when imagining who might be interested in adopting a tiger was a Bond-villain type character--but perhaps that's a bit judgmental. In reality, those willing to spend $100 thousand on a tiger are probably among the most concerned for their protection. And, if all 30 captive tigers are adopted, that $3 million could go a long way in preserving the precious few remaining tigers in the wild.