One of my most favorite things to do when going to the zoo is to see the big cats, most especially the tigers. The tiger is the largest of all big cats, and as of right now they are on the verge of extinction. The tiger is the top of the food chain in its natural habitat. They are a revered animal among many cultures and are considered to be one of the most beautiful animals on the planet. Due to poaching, illegal trade and the encroachment of their habitats, the tiger is now one of the most threatened species on earth and on the verge of extinction.
There are six subspecies of tiger today and all are on the endangered species list: the Amur better known as the Siberian, the familiar Bengal, the Indochinese, Malayan, South China, and Sumatran. Sadly, the Bali, Javan, and Caspian subspecies have all gone extinct in the last 70 years (WWF). Wild tigers today can only be found in the countries of: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, and Far East in Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam (WWF). Unfortunately not all of these subspecies can be found in the wild anymore, to put it bluntly there are about 47 South China tigers and they are all living in zoos in China (WWF).
Tigers aside from being the largest and one of the most of beautiful of all big cats are also quite fascinating. They can grow up to 118 inches in length including the tail and weigh anywhere from 310 to 660 pounds depending on the species (WWF). The tiger is a mostly solitary animal and lone hunter and will stalk its prey for a long time before attacking (WWF). They can consume up to 88 pounds of meat at one time. They will display sociable behavior and adults may even share a kill which is rare for a predator animal especially since they are such solitary animals (WWF). Sadly, one of the points that they are solitary and that they need such large parts of habitat to be wild and survive is one of the facts that make their extinction seem inevitable.
One of greatest threat to tigers in the wild is the loss of habitat every year. Tigers now occupy 7 percent of the landscape that they roamed only a century ago (WWF). In other words, they have lost 93 percent of their habitat in the last 100 years and have had a 45 percent decrease in just the last ten years. These habitats are being destroyed by human activities such as clearing forests for agriculture or building activities like roads. The timber trade both legal and illegal also takes a large part of the responsibility for the loss of the tiger’s natural landscape. “Individual tigers have a large territory. Where prey is abundant, territories range forms 2,400 acres to 4,900 acres for females and 7,400 acres to 17,300 acres for males (WWF). When the prey found is much less, their territories can be much larger. Tigers do range over their entire range over a period of days or weeks marking their territory.
The other largest problems facing tigers living in the wild is poachers. Poaching is illegal but it is still a common practice that is now a threat to many endangered species. Tiger body parts have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and in some rituals for over 1,000 years; though TCM practitioners have found alternatives to tiger body parts (WWF). Sadly, that has not stopped the demand of different body parts, such as bones, claws, teeth, and whiskers, and as long that there’s a demand, poachers will supply them. You would think that tigers being on the edge of extinction would temper people from buying tiger body part but it has not.
In order to protect this amazing creature in the wild that has roamed this earth for over a million years we must work together to protect them. The policies against poachers must become stricter and they need to be stopped completely. Something needs to be done on the demand to consume tigers to stop the poachers. As much as we must protect the tigers we need to protect their natural habitats the most (Seindensticker). Tigers can live up to 26 years in the wild and are never replaced in their territory unless killed deliberately, because they are at the top of the food chain in the wild.
Common sense seems to dictate that people should want to protect this beautiful and amazing wild creature but sadly many do not care. The tiger has always been my favorite type of animal maybe because it is a big cat or maybe because they are so pretty and colorful. I really hope something is done to stop the poaching and the shrinking of their natural habitat. Especially since it seems like it would be simple things done to stop them from becoming an extinct species, because that would truly be a sad thing.
Chanthavy Vongkhamheng, et al. “Bringing the Tiger Back from the Brink–The Six Percent Solution.” PLoS Biology 8.9 (2010): 1-4. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 7 Apr. 2011.
Seinensticker, John. :Saving Wild Tigers: A Case Study in Biodiversity Loss and Challenges to be Met for Recovery Beyond 2010.” Integrative Zoology 5.4 (2010): 285-299. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 7 Apr. 2011
WWF. World Wildlife Fund (WWF).Tiger Overview. 2011. 5 April 2011 Web.