The tiger (Panthera tigris) is the world’s most favorite animal according to a survey carried out by Animal Planet. This poll of more than 50,000 people in 73 countries chose the tiger, the world’s largest and most threatened with extinction of the big cats. When asked to explain the overwhelming appeal of the tiger, Dr. Candy d’Sa, an animal behaviorist, said: “We can relate to the tiger, as it is fierce and commanding o the outside, but noble and discerning on the inside.”
The tiger’s win was greeted with hope by conservationists because if people are choosing the tiger as their favorite animal, they surely will do what is needed to ensure their survival. But the tiger has vanished from 93% of their historic range. And down from 100,000 wild tigers 100 years ago to fewer than 3,200 remain in the wild today. Will we do what is needed to endure the tiger’s survival? Here are 3 simple tings you can do to help save wild tigers.
1) Tissue Products are Pushing Sumatran Tigers to Local Extinction
Tigers Today on Global Tiger Day
The Tiger (Panthera tigris) is our world’s largest cat and is also the cat most threatened with extinction. Just 100 years ago, there were as many as 100,000 wild tigers living in Asia but today fewer than 3,200 remain.
We have already lost three of the subspecies to extinction in the last 80 years; the Javan, last recorded in the 1970’s, the Caspian, lost in the 1950’s and the Bali lost in the 1930’s. Of the six remaining, the South China subspecies is thought to be extinct in the wild. There have been no signs of this tigers in the wild over the last 10 years. The Bengal, Indochinese, Sumatran, Siberian and Malayan are the only remaining wild tigers and are fighting to survive in just 7% of their historic range. Tigers only live in 13 Asian countries now having gone extinct in 11 countries already.
Your dad and I have made it two weeks now. I had to ask him this morning if it had been three weeks because it seems at least that long. I still have a headache when I wake up in the morning. Still tired and fighting the depression of losing you. I have a box of tissues in the passenger side of the Jeep because I just never know when I
might be shedding a few tears. Your dad has decided to wean himself off of comfort food by transitioning from chocolate cupcakes to lemon cupcakes. I don’t ask, I just smile and envy his metabolism. It is all part of the journey.
At night sometimes I still think I can hear your claws on your scratching whale and it is still super hard to come home and not see you running to greet us. Our hearts sink when the key goes in the lock. You knew when you heard the word “disarmed” that we were coming back into the house and seeing your big green eyes made us smile from ear to ear. Your water fountain is still unplugged and stagnant. I know I should pick it up and put it away.
After work today, I went to the clinic to collect your ashes. To be honest, I put this off for a few days. Your dad listened to the voice mail message maybe even last week, I am sorry, the days have all run together and I am not certain and don’t seem to care enough to sort them out. But today your dad encouraged me to go ahead and stop on my way home.
I had to steel myself to walk back in the door, the smells, the smiles on friendly faces and the heartache of having to say out loud. “I am here to collect Gracey’s ashes.” You would be proud because I was brave and stood waiting, emotions all in check. But then I saw the beautiful little wooden box I chose just after we lost you and that lump in my throat returned. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes and I thanked everyone again for how much they cared for you too.
I made it outside and got into the Jeep. I carefully opened the pretty bag holding your box and I ran my finger over the hand carved design on the top that reminded me of an Indonesian design and that is why I chose it because if you were a tiger, I think you would have been a Sumatran tiger. You were a petite cat and even though you liked to behave like your big cousin the Amur tiger, let’s be honest you weren’t so fond of getting your paws cold and wet in the snow. You were much more suited to meditating in the sun in your thinking circle.
Tiger cubs romping in the snow are super cute. And these Amur tiger cubs living at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium are no exception. The cubs are six months old and weigh about ninety pounds and as you can see in the zoo’s video, they are happy as can be frolicking together around their habitat.
Amur Tiger Cubs Snow Adventure at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium
Watching my young big cat cousins inspired me. While in my heated thinking circle today, I thought perhaps I should feed my inner Amur tiger and venture out to frolic in the snow. After all, it is winter here in Ohio and my backyard is completely covered in white fluffy snow. The neighbor children are all suited up and sledding down the hills and they seem to be enjoying themselves. So I thought, why not brave the cold and pounce around a bit in the snow. So I left the comfort and warmth of my heated thinking circle and I went into the wild.
The green dense rain forests on the Indonesian island of Sumatra are the only place in the entire world where elephants, tigers, rhinos and orangutans live together. But, since 1985, Sumatra has lost over half of its forest to the pulp and paper and palm oil industries. With only an estimated 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild, we must all stand together to protect the last remaining habitat for our big cousins.
The World Wildlife Federation, (WWF) hunted down the connection between the United States toilet paper and tissue products and the destruction of tropical forests on the other side of the world. What WWF found out is that the end products from the deforestation of the Sumatran forests are showing up on the United States supermarket shelves and in restaurants, hotels, schools and homes.
Born Free USA’s third annual Keep Wildlife in the Wild Week, June 20-24 was started with the goal of taking care of wild animals not just around the world but in your own back yards! Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA, says the goal of Keep Wildlife in the Wild Week, is to get people to stop, think and take action.
Small steps can lead up to making a big difference. In my backyard, you might already know that we try our best to take care of Bossy Backyard Blue Jay and all of the birds that gather and live around our habitat. We provide food and water, and we have trees and shrubs for shelter. We are also super lucky to have squirrels, rabbits, opossum, white tail deer, the occasional raccoon and last winter there might even have been a bobcat track through our yard. We live in an area surrounded by neighbors that love wildlife as much as we do.
What isn’t so lucky is the wild tiger. There are more wild tigers in captivity in the United States than there are in the wild. Occupying a mere 6% of their original territory, the tiger faces the possibility of following the pug marks of the ghosts of the Balinese, Caspian and Javan subspecies into extinction. The South China subspecies is already extinct in the wild. The remaining, Amur (Siberian), Bengal, Indo-Chinese (including Malayan), and Sumatran subspecies only have an estimated 1000 breeding females in total.
The wild tiger’s shrinking numbers are due to habitat loss caused by human encroachment, poaching fueled by greed, and starvation from lack of prey. Wild tigers need plenty of room to roam and the tiger’s contiguous territory is shrinking. Human populations and economic expansion has led to the razing of tiger habitats for plantations, mines and other agriculture. Over development by humans has left the tiger population in fragmented groups, leading to smaller genetic units with limited availability of prey animals. The tigers caught in these tiny territories are the most vulnerable to the most pressing threat; poaching.
To make matters worse, the increasing captive tiger population camouflages the severity of the wild tiger crisis. So many captive tigers estimated at over 5000 in the United States alone, may make it hard for the average person to fathom that tigers are at risk in the wild.