Endangered Tigers: Stop Poaching and Save Habitat to Prevent Extinction
Many Species of Tigers are Endangered
"The tiger is a large-hearted gentleman with boundless courage." - Jim Corbett
One of the most majestic cats is also among the world's most endangered mammals. In recent years, the population of tigers in the wild has dropped dramatically. Numerous tiger species are on the brink of extinction, following the vanished populations of three subspecies in just 60 years.
Today, Amur (Siberian), Malayan, South China, Indo-Chinese, Royal Bengal and Sumatran Tigers are on the brink... The numbers of these wild beasts are declining rapidly.
The original range of tigers spread over lands from Siberia to Bali, and Turkey to the east coasts of Russia and China. The magnificent cats roam mountains, forests and jungles, adapting to a wide variety of terrain. Nonetheless, tigers prefer to live in the underbrush, hiding in tall grasses, and using their natural camouflage to hide from prey.
Today, tigers are endangered in part because they are being squeezed out by growing human populations, but also because poachers continue to prey on the cats for their skins and other body parts, used for concocting Chinese medicines. Also, like the Giant Panda, the habitat of the tigers is being separated/fragmented, which makes it harder for their survival.
What Happened to the Tigers?
The tiger was first declared an endangered species in 1969. But still, over the past century, the Earth has witnessed the fasted growing disappearance of Tigers - more than any other species. Close to 99% of the wild cats have been wiped out in 100 years.
What is the bottom line?
First and foremost, the loss of thick forests has accelerated in Asia. Like areas of Tropical rain forests, vast swathes of land are cleared for agricultural production. When this happens, tigers lose their vegetative cover, are forced into inhabited areas for prey. When they kill livestock, farmers then go after the Tigers.
Second, poaching of tigers (illegal killing) still occurs. These criminals are willing to take significant risks breaking the law because the payout is so high. From $20,000 for a tiger hide, to hundreds of dollars per pound for an intact tiger forearm, and even lucrative Tiger penises, for soup which sells for over $300 per bowl in Taiwan, every part of the tiger is "on the black market." Bones, eyes, whiskers and claws may find a part in exotic elixirs.
Unfortunately, the price on the black market exceeds the perceived penalties for killing the last tigers in the world. They are often smuggled across International borders, free from the oversight of strained wildlife departments that lack resources to enforce laws.
Finally, the original hunting grounds and habitat of the tigers has been broken into small, fragmented pieces that threaten its survival. With smaller pockets of the wild left, tigers become separated from each other, which results in reproductive difficulties. Those that are left suffer inbreeding and gene pool weakening, which results in cubs that are less likely to survive as a result of birth defects and other mutations.
Facts About Endangered Tigers
- There were 9 original subspecies of tigers
- In the past 60 years, 3 tiger subspecies have become extinct: the Bali tiger, the Caspian tiger, and the Javan tiger (about one every 20 years)
- Of about 100,000 tigers in the 1900s, the number dropped to 4,000 by the 1970s and was estimated to be around 3,200 as of 2010!
- Tigers are now critically endangered with numbers hovering between 4,500 and 7,500 of all combined subspecies.
- All remaining tigers live in small, isolated populations in widely scattered reserves.
How to Stop Poaching and Save Endangered Tigers
Since 1969, there has been an official ban on the export of tiger pelts from India. Just a few years later, the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species (CITES) enacted a ban on buying/selling tiger part. Yet, even up until 1993, China and Taiwan continued operating black markets in tiger parts.
President Clinton imposed trade sanctions against Taiwan in 1994 because of its role in continuing to illegally market tiger and rhino parts. This is the same year that the United States enacted the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act to allocate resources to conservation programs to save these endangered species.
Did you know that, due to the extreme endangered status of tigers, some people are breeding domestic cats to resemble their wild counterparts? Amazingly, "Toygers" are tame alternatives to the wild Bengal Tiger that people can own as pets. Toygers resemble Tigers in appearance and in many ways, behavior, even though they are not related at all to the wild animals. Yet, as precious and beautiful as these pets are, they certainly cannot replace the Tiger.
Extinction of Endangered Tigers Can Be Avoided
Wild tigers exist in Eastern Russia, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Lao Peoples' Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) , North Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Bhutan, India and Nepal. Yet, the largest population of tigers in a single reserve is a mere 250 cats.
If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a virtual continent of people to save endangered species like the tigers. Its time to change our ways and stop encouraging poaching of tigers by giving up the wearing of faux fur, or dabbling in exotic medicines.
Daily decisions you make can literally mean the future survival of endangered species like the tigers, Giant Pandas, dolphins, sharks, etc. You can easily minimize your impact on the global community with very little effort.
Donate if you can to reputable organizations that are working to save endangered species. Support your local zoo or aquarium.
“The human race's prospects of survival were considerably better when we were defenceless against tigers than they are today when we have become defenceless against ourselves.” - Arnold J. Toynbee
What you can do to help the Endangered Tigers
Upon hearing grim news about the environment or endangered species, some people shut down. They may think, "What can I - just one person - do?"
The answer is: plenty!
Just imagine if you and everyone in your neighborhood gave $1 to help save the habitat of Tigers, stop poaching and prevent extinction. What if it was $5? Now, multiply that by the population in your hometown. Truly there is strength in numbers to make a difference in saving this endangered species. Perhaps you are starting to get the picture!
Here's what you can do to help the endangered tigers:
- Write to your congressperson, the Secretary of the Interior and/or the President of the United States. Tell them that you are concerned about the tigers and ask them to continue national and international efforts to preserve the species.
Pledge monetary donations to Adopt-A-Tiger at The Tiger Foundation, and/or become a member.
Join the Global Tiger Patrol, a conservation agency which places a priority on protection of the tiger in the field, especially India.
- Look into the Save the Tiger Fund, a program of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
- Keep track of the latest endangered species news at the Environmental Investigation Agency.
- Spread the word to raise awareness of endangered Tigers and to spur additional conservation measures.
Any additional suggestions of efforts you have made to help endangered Tigers? Please share in the comment section below.
More by this Author
Shark finning is a brutal practice that threatens their continued survival. Sharks can suffer excruciating deaths, bleeding out after their fins are cut off.
The Giant Panda is critically endangered due to loss of habitat. If you want to help save the Panda Bears, there are many organizations to which you can contribute.
A domestic Bengal Cat is a unique breed. While it can be easier to care for with respect to medical issues, you must be prepared to entertain and engage with this cat more than you might expect compared to other...