The Herculean tiger is on the brink of extinction. Tigers are one of the largest of the big cats. 60% of world’s tigers live in India. The rest are spread all across Africa, China and Siberia. Facts reveal that their population
has decreased from 100,000 in the 19th century to a shocking 3600 now!
But why are tigers in such a state? The biggest reason is their random killing. The culprits are the poachers who kill them for financial gains. In India, poaching is prevalent as killing them is a very inexpensive affair. Tigers are poisoned and caged for a mere $100s. No wonder, three out of its eight species have already become extinct.
Tigers have very typical food and habitat choices. They need vast spaces to move around and hunt. They live in tropical and ever green forests. Most of the tigers have a territory of approximately 50-60 square miles. They generally feed on large preys like deer, pigs and buffaloes.
Along with other major carnivores as leopard, tigers act as a control mechanism for herbivores or consumers. Thus they control the population of herbivores and preserve the forest and grassland ecosystem.
The interdependency of living forms in a food chain is obvious as the wild tiger is dependant upon herbivores for its survival where he maintains there population which in turn prevents the grasslands from being overgrazed.
Their extinction seems inevitable owing to the continuous loss of their natural habitat. Deforestation and poaching of smaller species of animals is a threat to the survival of tigers.
Killing tigers becomes inevitable as this man-eater is dangerous to the people living in the villages. The tiger’s skin is utilized in making clothes and can fetch a fortune. Its other body parts are used in the traditional Chinese medicine. Tigers are an umbrella species which means to save them, we must also commit to saving their habitat and prey.
Saving tigers is a hideous task. As locating them is quite challenging. These animals are difficult to count as they are extremely secretive and widely spread out. The only ways to spot them is by their retractable paw marks or by setting camera traps.
The South Chinese tiger, an antecedent to the rest of the tigers has not been viewed in the last twenty years making its existence questionable. Considering its total number which is close to 500, it still doesn’t suffice to keep the species going.
The dark truth about the dying tigers is a condition beyond repair. If the situation is not staved off then one wont have to wait long to see these mighty creatures disappear from the face of this earth.
A number of countries, organizations and NGO’s have come forward to save this endangered species. Mumbai based organization ‘Kids for Tigers’ targets the children and aims at educating 1.5 million children about saving tigers. ‘Save the Tiger Fund’ is a campaign running since 1995 and its main objective is to protect and conserve the tigers.
Britain heads an international campaign to stop traditional Chinese medicine driving tigers to extinction. Efforts are being made to stop tiger trade which is rampant in various parts of India. Legalizing it will only make matters worse.
Individually, one cannot do much in terms of saving these wild creatures. But on the personal side one can definitely take small initiatives. Either by participating actively in campaigns that are religiously involved in saving these carnivores or by simply donating money. Whatever the case, it is up to us whether we want to see them; the tigers rule the jungle for a longer span of time than predicted.