Save the Tiger
March 12, 2018
Panthera Tigris, otherwise known as the tiger, has faced severe population decline since they were declared endangered in 1969. At the beginning of this century there were roughly 100,000 wild tigers in the world, now there are less than 4,000.
World Wildlife (WWF) says that tigers are declared adults at about two years, measuring at 6-10 feet, and weighing up to 660 pounds. Tigers don’t start reproducing until around four years, and when they do, they only have an average of two cubs. Of those litters, only about half survive.
While there used to be nine subspecies of tigers at the beginning of the 20th century, only six remain: Sumatran, Amur, Bengal, Indochinese, South Chinese, and Malayan. Bengal tigers have the highest population of all the species, with over 2,000 left in the wild. The South China tiger is the opposite with the smallest population, and believed to be extinct in the wild according to World Wildlife.
The dissolving rates of tigers has largely been the fault of fur trade and poaching. According to The Independent, poachers use a plethora of different methods to catch tigers, including steel traps and poison. 317 poached tigers have been documented in the last decade, as stated in Poaching Facts Statistics, and three have already been recorded this year.
Another factor largely at fault for the population decline is habitat loss. According to World Wildlife, all across Asia, the environment that used to be hunting ground and habitat for tigers has been cut down and is now being used as agricultural land. Lack of land means lack of prey, and if they don’t die of starvation, some tigers are known to try and steal livestock. This poses a problem for farmers and tigers alike; farmers lose livestock, and in some cases tigers are shot and killed by people protecting their land.
Healthy ecosystems require a top predator, and in almost all ecosystems the tiger would be classified as the apex predator. With diminishing tiger populations, species below them could start to overpopulate and create problems throughout the entire food web.
Organizations have created multiple fundraisers for tigers, and are using strategies to increase the species’ numbers. The money is used to preserve tiger habitat and give them a safe place to live freely, and protected from poachers. This, and the laws and policies on tiger poaching and endangering are put in place to help eliminate any additional dangers to the tiger population.
Tigers have also been kept track of individually, monitoring their food intake and any and every threat that might come their way so they can prevent it from affecting the population large scale.
Thankfully, tiger population has shown an increase for the first time since the declare of their endangerment. Wildlife advocates are hopeful of their species endurance and ability to fight back against extinction.