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The Falling of the Tigers
The tiger is probably one of the most beautiful big cats in the world. They are gifted, beautiful, and vicious. There numbers are at an all-time low out in the wild. About 97% of wild tigers have disappeared over a century. They are close to extinction and today only as few as 3,200 exist in the wild. Tigers can weigh in between 220-660 pounds with a length of 4-10 ft. Their habitats include: evergreen forests, temperate forests, savannas, grasslands, mangrove swamps, and tropical rainforests. Their habitat is also being destroyed due to deforestation and human population growth. The status of the tiger is set as an endangered species. Already there are three tiger subspecies that are extinct thanks you humans hunting them to extinction.
Tigers hunt primarily with sight and sound. They do not hunt in packs, but they are the perfect predator when they hunt. They are loners and are experts in stalking their prey. A tiger can ingest about 88 pounds of meat and not finish until all the meat is pretty much gone. Two to three cubs can be born every 2 to 5 years. A second litter of cubs could be produced within 5 months if all the cubs from the first litter die. After about two years of age, tigers gain independence. Males become sexually active at ages 4-5 years while females become active at 3-4 years. Close to half of tiger cubs do not reach two years of age before they die, that’s pretty high. The age of 26 years have been reached by tigers in the wild, some have surpassed that age. Males tend to be larger than the females. Individual tigers have their own territories, but only visit parts of their territories over a period of days or weeks. They also urinate around the edge of their territory to warn other creatures not to trespass.
Extinct: This means that there is no reasonable doubt that the last living being of the species has died.
Extinct in the Wild: This means that this animal only survives in cultivation, in captivity, or as a naturalized population.
Endangered: This means the animal is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.
Critically Endangered: This means the animal is facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.
Vulnerable: This means the animal is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.
Near Threatened: This means the animal is likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future.
Least Concern: The animal does not qualify for any of the above.
Honestly, some of these categories are similar to each other and they should be narrowed down.
The Six Remaining Tiger Subspecies
The Three Extinct Tiger Subspecies
Three of the nine original tiger subspecies have already went extinct in the last 80 years. It has been projected that all tigers will become extinct in the next couple of decades. There are many reasons why tigers are extinct or endangered. Some of these problems consist to poaching, habitat loss, and more. Of the nine tiger subspecies, the three that went extinct are the Bali, Caspian, and Javan tigers. The Bali tiger was found only on the Indonesian island of Bali and in the 1930’s, the Bali tiger went extinct. The Caspian tiger (Persian tiger) lived near the Caspian Sea, from Turkey to Iran and east through Central Asia into the Takla Makan desert of Xinjiang, China. This tiger subspecies went extinct in the 1970’s. The Javan tiger inhabited the Indonesian island of Java until its extinction in the 1980’s.
The six tiger species still around today include the Indochinese tiger, Bengal tiger, South China tiger, Sumatran tiger, Siberian tiger, and Malayan tiger.
The Malayan Tiger
The Malayan tiger is only found on the southern tip of Thailand and the Malay Peninsula. They are somewhat related, but genetically distinct from the Indochinese tiger. Commercial poaching along with development projects have become a major threat to the remaining 500 Malayan tigers. There are active markets in Malaysia that sell tiger meat and manufacture tiger bones for medicines. The Malayan tiger is on the endangered species list.
The Indochinese Tiger
The Indochinese tiger’s habitat is found in Cambodia, Thailand, Lao, Vietnam, China, and Myanmar (Burma). For decades, the population has fallen by more than 70%. There are fewer than 300 Indochinese tigers left in the wild. Because of restricted access in certain areas where the Indochinese tiger lives, there is not much known on the size of their population status. Road construction and years of poaching have influenced the rapid decline of these tigers. The Indochinese tiger is on the endangered species list.
The Bengal Tiger
The Bengal tiger is the most well-known subspecies of tiger in today’s society. Also, they are the biggest population of tigers today. The population of the Bengal tiger in the wild is estimated at around 2,500. Tropical and subtropical rainforests, grasslands, mangroves, and high altitudes are a part of the Bengal tiger’s habitat. They can be found in countries such as Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, and Nepal. They account for over half the tiger population in the wild and threaten by poachers for their parts. The Bengal tiger is on the endangered species list.
The Siberian Tiger
The Siberian tiger is the largest of the tiger subspecies. They are even larger than a male lion. Their habitat is found in the southwest Primorye province in the Russian Far East and Sikhote Alin mountain region with only about 300 of them left. There are small populations of Siberian tigers found in China and North Korea. Rigorous logging and poaching are the biggest threats facing the Siberian tiger. The Siberian tiger is on the endangered species list.
The Sumatran Tiger
The Sumatran tiger can only be found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra which is off the Malaysian Peninsula. Their habitat is large and ranges from lowland to mountain forests. Included in their habitat are swamps, evergreen, and tropical rain forests. About 500 to 600 of these tigers are estimated to be living in the wild. Palm oil plantations, acacia plantations, and illegal trading for tiger parts are the reasons why the Sumatran tiger is being threaten. The Sumatran tiger is on the critically endangered species list.
The South China Tiger
The South China tiger is the smallest of the tiger subspecies. It is also more endangered then the Sumatran tiger. Some estimates have shown that there are fewer than 20 of these tigers left in the wild, but no one is sure of the exact numbers. Some people have said that the South Chinese tiger is already extinct. For the last 20 years, no South China tiger has been seen in the wild and that the reality of that is sad. Their habitat includes the provinces of Hunan, Fujian, Guangdong, and Jiangxi in southern China. There are less than 100 of these tigers left, but they can only be found in Chinese zoos. The South China tiger is on the critically endangered species list, but they may soon be added to the extinction list.
The Problems Tigers Face
All the subspecies of tigers will probably go extinct in the next 50 to 100 years. Tigers are threatened across their entire habitat as they are losing their habitat. Poachers kill them for body parts such as skins, meat, head, fangs, and more. Hunters kill their prey, and humans threaten their habitat with many forms of deforestation. It would be a huge and sad tragedy to see these beautiful and legendary creatures disappear of the face of this planet.
About 93% of the tiger’s habitats have been lost. Their habitats have been destroyed by deforestation, by degrading, and by human activities such as timber trade, building road networks, and more. Mostly it is due to deforestation.
Human Wildlife Conflicts
Humans and animals compete for space all time, tigers are no exception. The conflict for space is a threat to wild tigers and a huge problem for human communities living in or near tiger habitats. Tigers are forced to hunt livestock as their habitat shrinks and their wild prey dwindles down. After a tiger kills livestock, humans will retaliate by killing tigers. Some humans will catch tigers and sell them on the black market. Because humans rely a lot on firewood, food and timber, they must journey closer to tiger habitat which raises the risk of a tiger attack.
Poaching and Illegal Trade
In illegal wildlife markets, every part of the tiger is sold. The biggest threat to wild tigers is poaching. The killing of a female tiger that has cubs means that not one tiger was murdered, but more than one was because her cubs will not survive. Taking a mother away from their baby spells death for the baby. Parts of tigers are sold and used for folk remedies, traditional medicines, and as status symbols.
Climate change is normal, but because of human activity, climate change has accelerated at an extremely fast rate. The speeding up of this process not only throws wildlife of balance, but it destroys them. Rising sea levels are flooding beaches and other habitats and it does not just affect wildlife, but it also affects humans. Because of population growth and the threat of rising waters, humans are forced to take from the wild. What is threatening humans is threatening wildlife, but humans have capitalized on Mother Nature’s threat toward wildlife. So it’s like you take from me then I’ll take from you even though I have been taking from you way before rising sea levels.
For years people have ran tiger sanctuaries in different countries. After governmental raids, it was discovered that a lot of tigers were found dead and that the owners were involved in the illegal animal trade. This is a major blow to the protection of these beautiful creatures.
The Loss of a Beautiful Creature
Losing the tigers would be like losing part of the earth. Tigers have been around longer than humans and are depicted in ancient manuscripts, temples, stories, and more. If we lose tigers, it will have a major impact on the natural habitat that they live in. Remember, everything in nature works as one, nature works as a team. You lose a teammate, and then you lose a key aspect of that team. A lot of other animals rely on the tiger whether they know it or not.
If we do not protect this beautiful creature, then on down the road it will join the animals that no longer walk amongst us.
Of the six remaining tigers living in the wild, which is your favorite?
© 2015 Joe Howard