"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated"
Mahatma Gandhi 1869-1948
Tigers desperately need our help.......
Above is Bandhavgarh's much loved male tiger B2 the 'King' of the Tala range. Sadly B2 died following a territorial dispute on 20 November 2011. He will be sorely missed. RIP.
At the turn of the last Century there were estimated to be around 100,000 wild tigers in Asia. Today it is probable that fewer than 4,000 tigers remain in the wild of which there are only 6 of the the 9 sub-species of tiger remaining. Of the 9 sub-species sadly the following 3 sub-species are now extinct. Bali, Caspian, and Java tigers. In addition it is likely that the South China tiger is also extinct as it has not been seen for more than 2 decades.
Of the remaining sub-species the most numerous is the Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) which is the National animal of both India and Bangladesh and found in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.
The smallest and darkest of the sub-species is the Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) with an estimated population at a dangerously low level of between 300-400 wild tigers living on the island of Sumatra.
Another critically endangered sub-species is the Malayian tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni) found only on the Malay peninsula and the southern tip of Thailand. Here again the numbers are dangerously low and estimated to be between 200-300 tigers remaining in the wild.
The fourth sub-species is known as the Indo chinese tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti) whose territory ranges from Myanmar, south China, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. This species whose numbers are thought to be between 880-1,230 live in remote forests and mountainous terrain.
The largest of the sub-species is the Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) where there are probably no more that 400-450 wild tigers remaining and spread over a huge territory in the Russian Far East. The main population are found in Primosky and Khabarovski Krais plus a small population of tiger on the Russian-China border.
As previously mentioned the sixth and probably now extinct sub-species is the South China tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis). Chinese specialists are of the opinion that between 20-30 wild tigers remain although no independant sources have seen the animal since 1990.
On a brighter note in India alone the wild tiger population has been on the increase and now contains 70% of the world population of wild tigers as can be seen from the past 4 census figures as follows:- In 2006 the census showed a total sum of 1,411 tigers. That figure increased in 2010 to 1,706 tigers. Then in 2014 the tiger population increased to 2,226. In 2018 with the latest technology in place the number of tigers in India showed an increase to 2,967, as shown in the recently published Government of India census released in 2019. Although these figures are encouraging by showing a substantial increase in tiger numbers over the past 4 years it should be remembered that the forest cover for the tiger and other wildlife is constantly under threat from the increasing human population requiring more land to grow crops and graze domestic animals. In addition the latest census shows an approximate number of 85 wild tigers living within the Indian section of the Sunderbans. During the last census in 2015 around 106 wild tigers were shown to live in the larger Bangladesh area of the reserve. However, on the downside is the decline in tiger occupancy from 93,600 to 72,800 sq.km which is an alarming statistic. Losses of tiger habitat are from outside of the Protected Areas resulting in the isolation of important source populations. Clearly there is a desparate need for conserving contiguous forest habitats for the long-term viability of tiger source populations.
The main threats to the tigers survival continues to be:
1. Deforestation caused by the ever increasing human population requiring more land to graze livestock and grow crops.
2. Loss of tiger habitat caused by mining companies exploiting the forest for minerals together with road building and railway lines through and along the periphery of forest land.
3. Poaching of the 'big cat' in order to supply the illegal trade in both tiger skins and derivatives for traditional Chinese medicine.
4. Poaching of the tigers prey species such as deer and wild boar etc which the tiger needs to survive and raise its young
5. The lack of contiguous forest cover which fragments tiger populations and causes concern over inbreeding and genetic variation.
Both the Government of India and a number of worthy Indian and International non-government organizations are working hard in the field to protect and save the remaining wild tiger population. From my conversations with a number of eminent tiger research scientists I feel strongly that the tiger need not be confined to the growing list of extinct species.
However it remains a very real possibilty that the wild tiger could become extinct in our lifetime. Tiger conservation is therefore now more critical than ever. I would therefore request everyone visiting my website to kindly consider supporting any of the tiger orientated wildlife charities listed in the 'Links' section to help and aid their vital tiger conservation programmes. Contact me for any additional information on the subject.
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