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August 22, 2021 47 min

In 2002, a survey revealed there were just 1.6 Sumatran tigers per 100 square kilometers in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, one of the last habitats for the critically endangered animal. In the fall of 2015, however, research suggested that the numbers had significantly improved: 2.8 tigers per 100 square kilometers.

When Matt Leggett, a newly hired senior adviser for the Wildlife Conservation Society, looked at the data sets, satellite maps and spatial distribution grids, he couldn’t help noticing the forest. It seemed to be getting smaller.

Matt wondered: Were the people looking at the same maps he was? Was he crazy? He was not crazy.

This story was written by Wyatt Williams and recorded by Audm. To hear more audio stories from publications like The New York Times, download Audm for iPhone or Android.

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