Nimra Humanyoun, Green Blogger
Facts About Tiger
After a century of decline, overall wild tiger numbers are starting to tick upward. Based on the best available information, tiger populations are stable or increasing in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Russia and China. An estimated 3,900 tigers remain in the wild, but much more work is needed to protect this species if we are to secure its future in the wild. In some areas, including much of Southeast Asia, tigers are still in crisis and declining in number.
There are two recognized subspecies of tiger*: the continental (Panthera tigris tigris) and the Sunda (Panthera tigris sondaica). The largest of all the Asian big cats, tigers rely primarily on sight and sound rather than smell for hunting. They typically hunt alone and stalk prey. A tiger can consume more than 80 pounds of meat at one time. On average, tigers give birth to two to four cubs every two years. Tigers have been known to reach up to 20 years of age in the wild.
Cross their range, tigers face unrelenting pressures from poaching, retaliatory killings, and habitat loss. They are forced to compete for space with dense and often growing human populations.
Why they matter
· As a large predator, the tiger plays a key role in maintaining healthy ecosystems. These ecosystems supply both nature and people with fresh water, food, and health. Securing tiger landscapes could help protect at least nine major watersheds, which regulate and provide freshwater for over 800 million people in Asia.
· Tigers can directly help some of the world’s poorest communities. Tourists go to some places where tigers exist, creating opportunities for communities with few alternatives to earn money. Tiger conservation projects also help provide alternative livelihoods for rural communities, helping to bring in income and generating employment opportunities.
Habitat loss
Tiger have lots an estimated 95% of their historical range. Their habitat has been destroyed, degraded and fragmented by human activities. The clearing of forest for agriculture and timber, as well as the building of road networks and other development activities, pose serious threats to Tiger habitats.
Tigers more vulnerable to poaching as the venture beyond protected area to establish their territories. This underscores the need of ensure habitat connectivity between the protected areas where Tiger live.
Human wildlife conflict
People and Tigers increasingly compete for space. As forests shrink and pray becomes scarce, tigers are forced to leave protected areas in search of food and to establish territories. This takes them into human dominated areas that lie between Habitat fragments, where they can hunt domestic livestock that many local communities depend on for their livelihood.
Effects of climate change
One of the world’s largest and most uniquely adapted, Tigers population are found in Sundarbans.-A large mangrove forest area shared by India and Bangladesh on the coast of Indian Ocean. It is also the only coastal mangrove Tiger habitat in the world. These mangrove forests harbor a variety of species, including Tigers, and protected coastal region from strong surges and the wind damage. However, rising sea level caused by climate change threaten to wipe out these forests and the last remaining habitat of this Tiger population. According to a WWF study, without mitigation efforts, projected sea level rise_about a foot by 2070_could destroy nearly the entire Sundarbans Tiger habitat.
What WWF is doing:
Monitoring Tigers and Their Prey
Monitoring tigers and their prey is essential to achieving our goal of doubling wild tiger populations. By employing camera traps, tracking technologies and DNA collected from scat (droppings), we analyze the progress of tiger populations in order to adapt our strategies and make conservation decisions based on strong science and field experience.
Building Political Will
WWF works with governments across the 13 tiger range countries with wild tiger populations to build and maintain momentum around the conservation of tigers, which is an asset that can enhance their development agendas. By linking tiger conservation with forest preservation and carbon sequestration efforts, tiger range nations and their partners can demonstrate their commitment to promoting a healthy environmental and economic future.
Eliminating Tiger Trade
Trade in tiger parts and products is a major threat to wild tiger survival. Together with TRAFFIC, the global wildlife trade monitoring network, we implement strategies to help governments stop wildlife criminal networks, shut down black markets and change consumer behavior. We conduct investigations to document the tiger trade, catalyze action against it and help train enforcement agencies. We continue to build strategies to reduce demand for tiger parts and products and shut down tiger “farms”.
About the Author: Nimra Humanyoun, a green blogger and a social worker. She is a final year student in department of environmental sciences, GCWUS.