The surviving subspecies of tigers are the Bengal Tiger, Corbett’s Tiger, Malayan Tiger, Siberian, Sumatran and South China Tiger. All of these are classified as endangered according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The river Tigris in Mesopotamia was home to the Caspian Tiger, which is now extinct. Several subspecies have become extinct in the last few centuries.
Tigers are a species threatened with extinction under Appendix I of the CITES treaty. Today, between 3000-4000 tigers roam in the wild, with over 2000 in the Indian sub-continent. This number was around 100,000 at the turn of the 20th Century.
Fun Fact: Tigers are the national animal for India, Bangladesh, Malaysia and South Korea.
Causes for Decline in Tigers Populations
Animal parts are used as traditional Chinese medicine, some of which is quite strange. Some of these parts include a dog’s penis bone and testicles, deer antlers and penis, cow’s gallstone, rhino horn, bear bile, tiger bones, just to name a few. Rhinos are on the brink of extinction because of the supposed medicinal value of their horn (made of keratin, aka hair). Asiatic Black bears are kept in farms with a permanent hole drilled in the abdomen to extract bile from. The pain is so unbearable that bears have reportedly tried to commit suicide. A deer’s penis is extracted from a living deer so as to ‘conserve its medical properties.’ A tiger’s penis supposedly improves tiger eyes and virility. Let’s not forget these guys also use human parts in traditional medicine as well such as dried human placenta.
2. Over Poaching
During the 19th and 20th century, tiger hunting was a prominent game and a recognized sport by the British in colonial India. Many individuals have claimed to have killed over 100 tigers in their lifetime. The hunters would usually trap the tiger in a circle surrounded by elephants and slowly kill the animal. The popularity of tiger skin was another important factor in the decline of tiger populations in the 1960’s. As of 2017, poaching is still an issue in several regions, especially China. Habitat destruction and exploitation has also led to the fall in tiger populations over the past few decades.
3. Big cats of Instagram
Go on Instagram and you can see how easy it is to buy illegal wild animals in Kuwait and the Gulf. You can see several videos and pictures on Instagram of tigers, cheetahs, Lions, etc. in cars, mansions or hunting. Any of these cubs would cost around $15,000 in the black market, which is “as easy as getting a cupcake.” The owners would know zilch about wild animals, and these cats would become too big to handle. In some cases, the animal’s instinctive lethal nature can result in fatalities for humans and the animals.
4. Ligers and Tigons
A liger is a cross between a male lion and a female tigress whereas, a tigon is a cross between a male tiger and a female lion. The male offspring of hybrids are usually sterile and defeats the whole purpose of conservation of a species. These cats also suffer from several birth defects and die as cubs. Ligers are bigger than the mother and sometimes may kill the tigress during birth. Hunting is also really difficult, if not impossible if a hybrid tiger has to survive in the wild.
The rise in Tiger numbers
According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), conservation efforts by India, Nepal, Bhutan, Russia, etc. have seen tiger populations rise from 3,200 in 2010 to 3,890 in 2016 for the first time in over a century. If all goes to plan, the Countries hope to double tiger populations by 2022.
Several projects have contributed towards the increase in tiger numbers in the wild. Some of the efforts are rewilding of captive-bred tigers, reintroduction tigers into the wild, the Siberian Tiger Re-population Project, Save China’s Tigers, Project Tiger, tiger reserves, national parks, etc. have all contributed to the stabilization of the tiger population. But, are we too late?
Tiger Numbers (2016)
Basically, to increase our tiger population, we need our tigers to keep banging.
Selfies At Tiger Temple
The tiger temple is a Buddhist forest temple founded in 1994 as a sanctuary for wild animals, including tigers. Selfies with the Tigers were popular among tourists, albeit the tiger was heavily sedated. A selfie with a tiger is the cause for an entire lifetime of suffering for the Tiger. The Australian organization Cee4Life released 9 years of investigative reports in 2016 covering the disappearance of tigers, body part sales and exports, for-profit breeding and several other violations at the tiger temple. Sharon Guynup has also concluded the same after an independent investigation conducted by National Geographic.
As of 2016, over 150 tigers were living in the Tiger temple. The facility was closed in the same year and the frozen bodies of 40 cubs and several other exotic animal body parts were recovered from the temple premises. Another 30 frozen cubs were recovered in a search the next month. The secretary of the abbot was caught when he tried evading with thousand amulets containing tiger skin, tiger fangs, etc.
Here is a link to Google showing the people that took pictures with tigers in Tiger temple, cause why not, right?