gabbywild

Global adventures of a windblown, thrill-driven aspiring veterinarian

The Tragedy of Tigers November 19, 2012

Sumatran tiger (photo by Mark Butcher)

97% of all wild tigers have disappeared in the blink of 1 century. 100 years. That’s all it took to take down one of the most ferocious creatures on land. It is believed that only 3,200 tigers remain in the wild. 3,200!!! There are more tigers in captivity in the United States than there are in the wild, with numbers ranging between 5,000-10,000 tigers…

There are 9 different proposed subspecies of tiger recognized- 3, of which, are currently extinct:

Bengal tiger (Photo courtesy of BCR)

1)    Bengal (Indian) tiger: found in India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, W. Myanmar, and Nepal.

– Only 1,850 left in the wild! Their greatest threat is human expansion, causing them to be pushed out of their habitat. While poaching is still a major problem, “retributive killings” often occur from local villages if a tiger kills an individual or preys on a farmer’s animals.

2)    Indo-Chinese tiger: found in Cambodia, China, Laos, Malaysia, E. Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam

– It is believed that only 300 or fewer are left of these guys. Poaching is believed to be the primary cause for their extinction.

3)    Sumatran tiger: found only on the island of Sumatra

– They are the smallest subspecies of tiger, with fewer than 300 left in the wild due to poaching and widespread deforestation.

4)    Amur (Siberian) tiger: found in Russia and China (though few today are ever found over the Chinese border).

– They are the largest sub-species of tiger that recovered from the brink of extinction in the 1960’s from a population of only 40 to today consisting of a population of 450! At the moment, the primary threats to their conservation is a) poaching of themselves; b) poaching of their prey; c) logging; d) conversion of their land into agriculture; e) urban expansion into their land, including road construction and mining.

5)    South China tiger: EXTINCT; once found in China

6)    Caspian tiger: EXTINCT, but once found in Afghanistan, Iran, chinese and Russian Turkestan, and Turkey

7)    Javan tiger: EXTINCT

8)    Bali tiger: EXTINCT

9)    Malayan tiger: only found on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula (southern part of Thailand and Malaysian Peninsula). They are the second smallest subspecies of tiger. Only 500 individuals are left…

Bengal tiger (Photo courtesy of BCR)

Before we get teary eyed, I think it’s vital that you understand WHY you should care about saving tigers:

#1) Ecosystem Health Indicator: Due to the ecosystem’s dependence on a healthy forest as guided by a top predator, tigers are considered “sensors” of the health of their ecosystem. If any creatures below them fall out of the food chain, you should be able to tell through the tiger species’ vigor.

#2) Agriculture: By protecting tigers, you protect their land, which means that for agriculture, we can increase the amount of fresh water and pure surface to keep the soil from erosion. This comes into play in every single country tigers are located because agriculture is one of the most vital sources of economic means and subsistence survival.

#3) Poverty Reduction: this goes along with agriculture in a sense. By allowing tigers to monitor the health of a forest, a variety of trades are affected, including agriculture, water acquisition, medicine collection, and fuel and fiber attainment. It is estimated that up to 80% of the rural income of the economically disadvantaged in Southeast Asia is dependent upon the “jewels” from their local ecosystems.

#4) Forest Protectors: Natural Disaster Adjustors: By tigers keeping their habitats, which are predominantly forests, well regulated, the forests remain healthy, strong, and resilient. Strong and healthy forests have been shown to prevent natural disasters such as excessive fires, droughts, landslides, and floods.

#5) Forest Protectors: Medicine Guardians: many tiger territories are rich in plants and animals that are known or thought to possibly contain medicinal benefits. During the harvest, herbal plants, used for medicinal and aromatic services from these regions, contribute to $60 billion/year of global trade, according to the WWF.

#6) Watershed Keepers: tiger territories are part of 9 global watersheds that possess 5.8 million km2 of water, supplying not only water to 830 million people, but they provide most of the electricity to those countries. Keep tigers alive means keeping the entire ecosystem alive and clean. (Statistics confirmed from WWF)

#7) Carbon Storage & Sequestration Monitors: back to their ability to control the health of their forests, which contain 3.5 more carbon than non-tiger-rich forest areas- this yields 1.2 million km2 of forest being protected by tigers. 17% of global CO2 emission is due to deforestation, but tiger-rich forest hopefully will not contribute to this statistic much longer!

#8) Cultural Symbols: both religiously, spiritually, and culturally for many Asian cultures.

Bengal tiger (Photo courtesy of BCR)

Right now we have a chance to save them. In coordination with the Zoological Society of London’s EDGE of Existence Programme, I am fighting for the Sumatran tiger.

Join the fight! To those who want to get more involved in saving tigers, email me at wild@gabbywild.com

 

Stay Wild,

 

Gabby Wild

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One Response to “The Tragedy of Tigers”

  1. […] and enthusiastic, and talks about animals across the world. One of the best posts talks about tigers – I call it the best not only because I have a soft spot for these beautiful carnivores, but also […]


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