A Sumatran tiger faces a camera trap head on in Kerinci Seblat National Park, on the Indonesian island of Sumatra (see map), in a May 2007 photo.
One of the last havens for the Sumatran tiger—listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)—the park was the site of a camera-trap survey from 2004 to 2009, one of the most extensive such projects ever conducted, conservationists say. (See more tiger pictures.)
During the project, a team from Fauna and Flora International (FFI) and the University of Kent's Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology photographed 35 separate tigers out of a likely total population of about 500. Pictures of the tigers—as well as some other forest species captured during the project—were released for the first time last week by FFI. (Related pictures: "Cameras 'Trap' Hairy-Nosed Otter, More Rarities.")
Unlike the well-known subspecies the Bengal tiger and Siberian tiger, Sumatran tigers "have not achieved international fame, and this is partly because it is so difficult to document this equatorial species hiding in lush evergreen rainforest," FFI's Matt Linkie said via email. (See a rare video of tiger cubs filmed in Sumatra earlier this year.)
Indonesia's two other tiger subspecies—the Bali tiger and Javan tiger—are both extinct, and there is "grave potential for history to repeat itself" with the Sumatran tiger, which is illegally hunted on the island, Linkie said. (Take a big cats quiz.)
But there's hope, he added—FFI has set up five anti-poaching teams across the national park.
(Read about how to save tigers with National Geographic's Big Cats Initiative.)