By: didik raharyono
Once again I would like to share my experiences about the existence of javan tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica). Now days, the interesting issue is to macroscopic fecal identification, which mean how to determine by using a bare-eye without using any additional equipment –except camera an measuring tool-. My collections of Big Cat’s feces almost a hundred of samples. In the beginning, I collected every time I found feces that have a big cat’s character. Upon the time, I only taking a photograph and measurement of the sample that I found in the field. Beside that I still receiving sample and picture of feces that found by other people and nature lover’s organization from east and west Java.
There are a many things that can be discussed about this.
At the beginning we collect all feces that found at the field. We are using a bamboo to store and preserve the sample during travelling in the forest and so the feces shape does not broke. After arrive at flying camp, we dried the feces under direct sunlight, but if we manage to get the research station/base camp, we usually use glass can with 3-4 cm of diameter (base on the feces size), and then we used bulb light to dry the feces. This process can take 2 days.
This drying process used to avoid the destruction of the sample by insect or mushroom. From the fecal sample we can learn about many details about the owner behavior, like what can of prey he eat, the composition, behavior, even more to detect the location where he eat the prey.
The documentation of fecal sample can be done when the first time found in the forest or after the drying process. This matter can precise the analysis, including some subjects that used to be forgotten when we were at the field. After the documentation, we can open the feces to know the composition whether there are fragmented bone and tooth record.
THE FECAL’S BASIC STRUCTURE OF BIG CATS
For the first step, we have to know the differences between cat’s feces with snake feces or Owl’s vomit. Main character of big cat’s feces, this feces composition usually has the hair of the prey, fractured bone, and its shape like a ‘bolus’ (such as horse feces). Big Snake, python like, feces only have the hair of the prey without bones because the bones usually already digest and become like pasta. And for the big owl, the vomit‘s shape almost likes a big cat’s ‘bolus’, but the structure is compound by small animal’s head, such as rat, squirrel or bat. The pipe bone where find complete/ not fractured.
Base on my experiences, besides using the morphological character we also can use the aromatic of the feces that are specific for each species, to determine the owner. This matter is related to the differences of the digestive enzyme.
Picture 1. The Sumatran Tiger feces, which feed with chicken, Has 4 boli. This first experience is important to know the smell of tiger’s feces. The next is diameter of the feces.
Picture 2. Owl’s vomit. It looks a like with tiger’s feces. But if we take a look closer, we can see the bone that composed it still fine (inset: lower left). It is, off course, because the owl does not have teeth. Owl’s feces form like pasta.
Picture 3. Bone fractures are the main characteristic of big cat’s feces. The indication of fractured bone on feces is the principal rule to determine whether it was belong to big cats, python snake or owl (the idea is big cats usually like to chew the bone). If it is possible, we can take tooth record to know how big the tooth that use to chew the bone. Those fractured bone usually wrapped with the hair of the prey that build the feces.
Picture 4. The prey’s hair compound, it also can become the indicator of big cat’s feces.
The hair that found in the feces can indicate the owner of the feces. What can be the indicator of Owl’s vomit that also have a hair composition, its usually only refer to rat, squirrel or bat’s hair, instead bigger animal such as deer, primates and wild boar’s hair that usually consumed by big cats.
DETERMINATION BETWEEN LEOPARD AND JAVAN TIGER’S FECES
In determining between leopard and javan tiger’s feces we used to count the diameter of the feces and look forward to the leaf composition at the last bolus.
If the feces has 4 cm or more of diameter and we do not find any of leaf composition at the last bolus, it can be claim as Javan Tiger. But if the feces diameter is about 2 – 3 cm and has leaf at the end, it can be say as leopard feces.
Beside that, in Javan tiger’s feces we usually found a nail of the prey component, which is never been found on leopard feces.
Picture 5. Javan Tiger’s feces. Diameter 6,5 cm, containing fractured bone, wild boar’s hair, and build by 6 boli. This feces was found by the ranger of Merubetiri National Park.
Picture 6. Leopard’s Feces. Diameter 2 cm with bamboo leaf at the last feces. Bone fractures are the main characteristic of big cat’s feces. Some of indigenous people informed that Leopard’s feces usually contain soil/dirt. At this picture, found black soil near the spoon. This feces was found at asphalt road side between Paltuding to Totokan, Ijen Mountain.
THE OPPORTUNISTICAL OF JAVAN TIGER
The Carnivores are usually opportunist, which mean eat all kind prey from insect until buffalo. The opportunism of javan tiger known based from analyzing the composition of feces that found by people of Pendarung village at 2004. [Journey record of javan tiger feces: From Pendarung, feces that found from the forest was taken to Mr. Netran (CO – KAPPALA Indonesia, East Java region), then delivered to Mr. Giri (KAPPALA Jember), and then to me. I do analyze and documented deeply until found the opportunist character of this Javan tiger].
Description of the Feces: 7cm of Diameter has 5 boli, composed by wild boar, barking deer and long-tail macaque. Beside that the feces contain blackish beetle and couple of small branches and bamboo leaf which are slip in between hairs of wild boar and barking deer – this is not the feces tip.
Picture 7. The length of Javan tiger feces is about 18 cm.
Picture 8. The Diameter of Javan tiger feces are about 7cm.
Picture 9. At the tip of this Javan Tiger boli found 2 nail of wild boar. If we take a look closer, we can see the detail of the feces which contained by 3 kind of prey’s hair: Wild boar (black and numbed); barking deer (brownish) and long tail macaque’s hair (grayish hair and soft).
Picture 10. Barking deer’s nail was also found on feces
Picture 11. The tip of macaque’s nail. As a fact, beside macaque’s hair, macaque’s nail also found in Javan Tiger’s feces.
Picture 12. The fragment of black-beetle also found on javan tiger feces at the same boli.
Serial picture above clearly describe the opportunistic character of javan tiger in his hunt for food. From feces we can discover much information in it. The analysis upon the preys that eaten by javan tiger recorded perfectly on its boli. It means that feces can tell us about the opportunism behavior on javan tiger. The proof is much kind of species –from beetle kind until wild boar- was recorded on the feces.
There is also an interesting thing we can discover from analysis the feces which is about the location where the preys being eat. If we take a look closer in picture 7, 8, 10, 11 and 12 we can find bamboo leaf that slipped in between prey’s hair inside the feces. According to that, we can know that the prey was eaten in area which has bamboo foliage. As strengthen of the assumption, as inform by the discoverer, that feces was found and picked up beneath the forest area which have‘bamban’ vegetation (kind of ‘Maranta tree’s) and have no bamboo foliage. Therefore it was not possible if the bamboo leaf was slipped in the feces at defecation process. On the contrary, the bamboo leaf was accidentally eaten during feeding process where the leaf was stick into the prey flesh upon the dried blood. This matter was strengthening by the discovery of javan tiger feces on this august (it was dry season in Java Island).
Picture 13. Bamboo leafs were slipped into prey’s hairs which are composed Javan tiger feces, shown that the feeding location was beneath bamboo vegetation. This matter can be indication for us to examine area beneath bamboo vegetation which is possibly to find remnant of javan tiger feeding activity, because they usually heap their prey if not eaten entirely.
As an addition of Javan tiger characteristic on eating behavior, was found stockpile of wild boar’s skull with teeth record indication on the each side of jawbone as shown in picture 14 below.
Picture 14. The size of javan tiger molar-teeth was record clearly (shown by 3 blue arrows). The cutting of upper and lower molar javan tiger can be perfectly identify.
As the next issue we would come with endoparacite and DNA analysis from fresh speciement of javan tiger. Hope the almighty God, ALLAH, always give us strenght and convenience to carry out this life, Amen…
This writing is dedicate for:
- Mas Eko Teguh, Mas Giri, Cak Dainuri and Kang Lethek (for the exhortation to be acquainted with Javan tiger on 1997).
- Pak Ti, Pak Li, Pak Hamzah, Pak Rin, Pak Min, Pak Netran, Pak Im, Pak Udin (whom with theirs sicerity and trust teach writers directly ‘contextual leaning’ in the forest to know javan tiger print from 1997 until 2005).
May, 26th 2010, Secretariat PKJ
Karang Jalak Cirebon