Growing up in a suburb just far enough from the bustling city of New York, but not yet close enough to experience wildlife in its natural form, I would enjoy family trips to the zoo. It was at the zoo where I could see nature yet, not in its rawest of forms. I have vivid memories of looking up at a pack of tigers in their enclosure. I found it fascinating to see such big cats just a couple feet away from me. However, I noticed that the tiger hadn’t stopped walking from the moment I set my eyes on the animal.
In the wild, tigers typically spend 18 to 20 hours resting and sleeping. This is very similar to that of our own domestic cats. Instead of sleeping, the tiger I watched walked around its cage, staring at our faces through the glass as though it was agitated by our presence.
I did not know it then, but this tiger was pacing in distress. Of the original nine subspecies of tigers, three have gone extinct in the last 80 years. Of the six subspecies left, conservationists have estimated an approximate 3,200 left in the wild. The map, created in 2014, below shows the location of the estimated 3,200 tigers which remain in the wild.
In order for any population to be sustained, its necessities to live have to be met. In the tiger’s case, these necessities include water, dense vegetation for hiding, and prey. As mountains, jungles and vegetation disappear, so do tigers. Tigers are endangered by deforestation, the construction of new developments in former wilderness areas, coastal erosion and poaching. All of which are brought on by persistent human interference in the natural world.
The problems which effect humans and tigers include human population growth, competition and medicine.
As the human population continues to grow, specifically the population in Asia because tigers are largely found in this region, a demand for more and more land to be converted for agriculture to sustain a growing amount of people. As the amount of wilderness that gets converted into land increases, tigers are forced to compete for food because we share the same game. As human hunt the tigers prey, the tigers then resort to stalking domestic animals and even humans.
People living in close proximity to tigers are then threatened and poison, shoot or snare tigers on land that was once their wilderness.
For decades, tiger parts such as eyeballs, teeth and more have been used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is believed that due to the tiger’s strength and power, the animal has medicinal qualities which help treat chronic ailments, cure disease and replenish the body’s natural energy.
The phenomena is sad and fatal causing tigers to be listed as endangered. Conservationists have predicted that all tigers may become extinct in the next decade.
Unfortunately, due to weak law enforcement and understaffed governmental departments, we do not have the capacity to save the endangered tigers.
For now, conservationists have agreed that strict protection of wildlife reserves have been the key to resiliency of tigers thus far. However, as long as deforestation continues to deplete our wilderness and tigers continue to be poached without any political support the lives of tigers will continue to be threatened.
To learn more about the issues tigers face and possible the solutions to curb the threat browse the following links:
For Chinese traditional medicine:
For laws and support for tigers:
To learn more about tigers and their story:
Tigers in Crisis was created by Craig Kasnoff in 1998. Craig advocates publicly for the lives of endangered species.
Sources for this article:
Written by: Mariesa Outridge