Tigers in peril
The Royal Bengal Tiger is not only at the top of the food chain in the wild but constitutes a vital link in maintaining nature’s rich diversity and ecosystems. Will it become extinct? A recent PTI report cites researchers as saying that rising sea levels, caused by climate change, could destroy the world’s biggest mangrove forest — Sunderbans — spanning more than 10,000 square kilometres in India and Bangladesh, in the next 50 years. It quotes Sharif Mukul, an assistant professor at the Independent University, Bangladesh, as saying that analyses by researchers indicate that the Sunderban’s tiger habitats would vanish by 2070. The area being perhaps the most important habitat of the majestic animal, the development has serious implications for the Royal Bengal Tiger’s survival. All of this warrants concern on two counts — the future of the Royal Bengal Tiger as a species, the consequences of the extinction of tigers and the developments leading to both. As to the first, around 97 per cent of the world’s tiger population perished in the last 100 years and, according to the latest statistics, only 3,890 tigers are left in the world. The developments leading to the extinction of tigers include the destruction of their forest habitats for human settlements, industry and infrastructure, the consequent increase in human-tiger conflict and the extensive use of tiger parts in Chinese medicines.
Encroachments on tiger habitats are liable to grow given the continuing increase in human population, the rising demands for housing settlements and industrial and agricultural products arising therefrom. The incidence of conflict between people and tigers is also set to rise as the decline in the availability of prey, who share tigers’ shrinking habitats, compels the latter to target domesticated animals like cattle. Finally, there is no sign of any fall in the demand for tiger parts in Chinese medicines despite it being medically established that they have no medicinal value at all. Much of what has been achieved in protecting the tiger would be lost if the trend continues. The results would be disastrous. The Royal Bengal Tiger is not only at the top of the food chain in the wild but constitutes a vital link in maintaining nature’s rich diversity and ecosystems that sustain both nature and people. And it is not just the tiger. Over 3,000 species are becoming extinct every year. Indeed, the world is now in the midst of its sixth mass extinction of plants and animals in the last half-a-billion years, and the worst since the extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago. At this rate, as many as 30 to 50 per cent of all species would be moving toward extinction by the middle of this century. More can be read on this intersting article by following the link below.