Tiger Populations are Diminishing, Despite Conservation Efforts
Henry David Thoreau once said: “It is not part of a true culture to tame tigers, any more than it is to make sheep ferocious”.
If only people today saw things the same way he did. The future of the world’s tigers is diminishing fast and looking very bleak, despite efforts made to protect them and bring them back.
Of the nine known subspecies of tigers, 3 became extinct during the 20th century; the beginning of which saw more than 100,000 tigers in existence. Now their numbers have dwindled down to 3 or 4 thousand at the most. The other 6 are endangered, with the exceptions of the Sumatran Tiger and the South China Tiger, which are both critically endangered. The Sumatran Tiger currently has 250 estimated left in the wild, while the South China Tiger is under extremely critical circumstances, at only 10 – 30 of them left in the wild.
To make matters worse for the tigers, protections of any kind—including zoo enclosures—are not enough to keep them from harm. During August of this year, thieves broke into the Taman Rimba Zoo on Sumatra and poached a female Sumatran Tiger. All they left behind of her remains were the intestines.
A conference of tiger experts was held recently to discuss the serious trouble they are in. Participants at the conference included the World Wildlife Fund, World Bank, and representatives from 20 countries—13 of which tigers still live in today. Nepal’s secretary of forest and soil conservation, Yuvaraj Bhusal, told the attendees “we are assembled here to save tigers that are at the verge of extinction”. The intention of the conference was to plan the right course of action to take for tiger conservation and how to put a stop to poaching, the trade of tiger parts and conflicts between tigers and locals.
Nepal’s Prime Minister, Madhav Kumar Nepal was also in attendance at the conference. During his speech, he said that “despite our efforts in the last three decades, tigers still face threats of survival. The primary threat is from poaching and habitat loss. Global and regional solidarity and corrective measures are more necessary now than ever to face these challenges”.
Tigers have been voted as the world’s favorite animal, beating out dogs, dolphins, horses, lions, snakes, elephants, chimpanzees, orangutans and whales. They are viewed as the king of beasts in Asia (where all of them currently reside), and are seen as the embodiment of royalty, fearlessness and wrath. They are also greatly depicted throughout myth, legend and lore, and have been at the core of people’s cultures and belief systems.
For an animal that is so revered and loved and feared by so many, why then is it treated so poorly? I leave you with another quote, this time by Arnold J. Toynbee:
“The human race’s prospects of survival were considerably better when we were defenseless against tigers than they are today when we have become defenseless against ourselves.”
By Heidi Marshall