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Vanishing Spirit
14 x 18

The Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is one of six extant subspecies of tigers in the world. Three have previously gone extinct. This particular subspecies is smaller than the others and males have a characteristic ruff around the head. Their small size is likely an advantage in traversing the swamps and dense forest that make up their habitat. They also have webbed feet as the island is known for an abundance of water. Generally considered a shy species, they feed primarily on deer and wild boar.

The Indonesian island of Sumatra is home to only about 400-600 individual tigers and thus they are listed as critically endangered. Deforestation and habitat loss is the primary threat. Most of the remaining tigers now exist only in National Parks. Indonesia has seen a huge increase in deforestation in recent years due to palm oil plantations and acacia plantations. Large swaths of forest are clear cut or burned, wiping out all life within. Other keystone species, such as orangutans, are suffering tremendous loss of populations from this practice. The tigers are also poached for their body parts which are smuggled and sold on the black market. To add to these threats, one of the last wild forest refuges of this species is being logged to make paper for companies such as Kentucky Fried Chicken for their napkins and containers.

We often don't think of where the products we use come from and the unethical practices that occur during the manufacturing process. Education via conservation organizations and mainstream media outlets are key to consumers becoming aware. Farming of palm oil has caused irreversible consequences for the Indonesian rainforest and the biodiversity within it. Palm oil is now in about 50% of the products you will purchase at stores. Soon the Sumatran tiger and much of the other wildlife within these forests may no longer be with us. It is up to every individual to make smart consumer choices and to have an interest in the preservation of biodiversity on our planet. Vanishing spirits are everywhere around the globe.

I would like to thank friend Shannon Davis-Richardson for the use of her photo in the creation of this piece.