Can We Stop The Countdown?
July 24, 2017
International Tiger Day is this Saturday. Tiger Day, which is celebrated on July 29th every year, is a day set aside to help raise public awareness about the threats that are dwindling the world’s wild tiger population. These magnificent animals are on the brink of extinction and without action, they could be completely extinct in the wild by the time our children are grown.
Below is a timeline of the wild tiger population, where they were in the 1900’s to where they are today:
- In the 1900’s, wild tiger populations were well over 100,000 but through poaching, habitat loss, trophy hunting, bone wine, “medicinal” use, and other various factors the population had been nearly decimated.
- By the 1970’s, the population dropped to less than 4,000.
- In 2010, populations hit an all time low at approximately 3,200 total left in the wild.
Through conservation efforts in 2016, we witnessed a slight population increase up to 3,890.
Conservation efforts need to start in the wild. Captive breeding is only a small part of conservation and there are regulated captive breeding programs, such as the Species Survival Plan (SSP), that monitor breeding programs to ensure that the animals involved are of the same subspecies, are not inbred (a common issue with captively bred big cats in the exotic pet trade), and have no major genetic defects.
These efforts in captivity, however, are only secondary measures to guarantee that there will be a viable population of tigers who could be potentially introduced into the wild. But before we can even consider introducing these captive bred populations, we have to first stop the issues that have brought them to near extinction in the first place.
There are a few ways that you and your community can help end the decline of wild tiger populations:
- No Palm Oil – Palm oil comes from Sumatra, the destruction of the Palm forest is decreasing habitat for the Sumatran tiger along with other species like the Orangutan. The Cheyenne Zoo has created a phone app you can download to help you identify products that have Palm Oil in them. The app is called Sustainable Palm Oil Shopping.
- Speak Up – Let your state and Congressional Representatives know that this is an issue that you are passionate about. Poaching, hunting, and selling these beautiful animals is still a major concern. Remember, they work for you!
- Be a Responsible Tourist – Avoid places that breed cubs and pay-to-play schemes.
- Spread the Word – Don’t be quiet about your concern. Talk about the issue and help educate everyone about the plight of tigers in the wild and in captivity.