Today is International Tiger Day also known as Global Tiger Day. If we don’t save these majestic cats, soon they will only be characters in stories and legends for future generations. Ninety seven percent of the wild tiger species have been lost in a little over a century with as few as 3000 left alive in the wild today. Many species of the tiger are extinct today. Loss of tiger habitat due to the rise in human population and development and trade in tiger parts are the primary reasons for the drastic reduction in tiger numbers.
Loss of habitat has contributed to the reduction of tiger habitat by almost 93%. This leaves the tigers to survive in limited habitats often in direct competition with nearby human communities. Shrinking forests means reduced prey which forces the tigers to hunt the livestock of neighboring communities. The tigers then get killed or captured and end up on the black market. And this black market exists because of a demand created by bizarre human beliefs passed down through generations and a lack of education. Almost every part of the tiger — from whisker to tail is traded on the black market. Illegal poaching is the most immediate threat to the wild tiger fueled by the demand for their parts which is used for traditional medicine, folk remedies and even as status symbols in some Asian cultures.
One of the world’s largest tiger populations is found in the Sundarbans, a large mangrove forest shared by India and Bangladesh, the Bengal tiger’s primary habitat. However, rising sea levels brought on by climate change threatens to swallow these forests and the tigers that call it home. According to a WWF study, without efforts to combat it, projected sea level rise to about a foot by 2070 could destroy nearly the entire Sundarbans.
Thankfully, there are organizations like the WWF working towards saving the tiger and these are some of the steps being taken:
- WWF has chosen to focus its resources in areas where densities of prey and tigers are at their highest. These locations are tiger corridors that link tiger sites within an area. Their work includes helping to manage protected areas at the local level.
- By employing camera traps, tracking technologies and DNA collected from scat (droppings), WWF studies the progress of tiger populations so they can adapt their strategies and conservation efforts.
- WWF together with TRAFFIC, the global wildlife trade monitoring network, has implemented strategies to stop wildlife criminal networks, shut down black markets, and change consumer behavior.
We too can do our part by spreading awareness and changing beliefs and traditions, so there’s no demand for tiger parts anymore.
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin
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