Il Silenzio for Bali tiger

Bali Tiger do not exist todayOnly five of tiger subspecies still exist today; the Siberian tiger, Indochinese tiger, Bengal tiger, South China tiger and Sumatran tiger (and this one is endangered too). The Bali tiger, Caspian tiger and Javan tiger are the three subspecies that are currently extinct.

The last specimen definitely recorded was a female shot at Sumbar Kima, west Bali, on September 27, 1937. However, a few animals likely survived into the 1940s and possibly 1950s. The subspecies became extinct because of habitat loss and hunting. Given the small size of the island, and limited forest cover, the original population could never have been large. Killing these tigers and selling their parts wa a very lucrative business. Tigers also have a slow reproductive capacity. Breeding takes place for 20-30 days. Once impregnated, the gestation period is approximately 90 days.

However, the Bali Tiger wasn’t truly imperiled until the first European settlers arrived on Bali in the late 16th century; over the next 300 years, these tigers were hunted as nuisances or simply for sport, and the last definitive sighting was in 1937 (though some stragglers likely persisted for another 20 or 30 years).

Like in other Asian nations, Balinese people are fond of wearing tiger parts as jewelry for status or spiritual reasons, such as power and protection. Necklaces of teeth and claws or male rings cabochoned with polished tiger tooth ivory still exist in everyday use. Since tigers have disappeared on both Bali and neighboring Java, old parts have been recycled, or leopard and sun bear body parts have been used, instead. One of the traditional Balinese dances, the Barong, still preserves in one of its four forms, a type called the Tiger Barong (Barong Macan).

A final blow to the island’s already low tiger population came during the Dutch colonial period, when shikari hunting trips were conducted by European sportsmen coming from Java, armed with high-powered rifles and a romantic but disastrous Victorian hunting mentality. Surabayan gunmaker E. Munaut is confirmed to have killed over 20 Bali tigers in only a few years.

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