By Stanley Widianto

JAKARTA (Reuters) – With camera traps and extensive DNA sweeps, Indonesian conservationists are hoping to find more evidence that the Javan tiger, a species declared extinct, actually still exists in the wild, an environment ministry official said on Tuesday.

Researchers at the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) said in a DNA study published last week that a strand of tiger hair sighted in a West Java village in 2019 matched some characteristics of the tiger, which is native to Indonesia.

The Javan and Bali tigers have been declared extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the global authority on wildlife extinction risk. Only the Sumatran tiger remains, and it is considered endangered.

“The research has sparked speculation that the Javan tiger is still in the wild,” Satyawan Pudyatmoko, the ministry official who oversees conservation, told Reuters. “We have prepared and will prepare efforts to respond to it.”

Measures include setting camera traps around the area and seeking advice from genetics experts, he added.

In 2019, villagers spotted what they thought was a Javan tiger and collected its hair from a fence and found scratch marks, Wirdateti, a researcher on the study who interviewed one villager, told Reuters.

Researchers have cited poaching and the clearing of forests for plantations as among the causes for its extinction.

Global environmental campaign group World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Indonesia urged caution in communicating the findings to the public for fear of hunters, said M. Ali Imron, its forest and wildlife director, adding that further research was needed to confirm the existence of the tiger.

(Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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