Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Tiger Numbers Shrink Further

On the world's Tiger Day, the news is not good. More tigers (Panthera tigris) live in captivity than in the wild. The last plausible estimate was made in 2010 and stood at 3200 still living in the wild. Remaining population are isolated and under increasing pressure from humans who consume not only forest resources but the tiger itself. Tigers are in conflict with humans around the globe because they are forced by humans to prey on their livestock that causes their retaliation. It is a death loop for tigers. Ninety-seven percent of tigers disappeared during the 20th century when their population dropped from 100,000 to current levels.

@ Frankfurt Zoo by Moni Sertel
Range countries are counting their tigers in order to assess ways to protect them. Bhutan said it has 103 tigers living within its borders, more than the previous estimate of 75. However populous and impoverished Bangladesh only counted 106 wild tigers in its first national estimate, less than expected. Southeast Asia is facing a tiger crisis because numbers are so low and the countries in the region are doing little to conserved remaining populations. Many are not even conducting surveys. The region is also plagued by a rampant black market in tiger parts and skins. Malaysian experts said tiger numbers there have fallen to as few as 250 individuals down from 500. No breeding populations are thought to exist in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. Numbers are unknown for Idonesia, Thailand and Myanmar. There are some signs of progress as Thailand's government is organizing an assessment of tigers in the country, Malaysia intends to conduct its first survey, and Cambodia is interested in translocated tigers with WWF help.

Other tiger range countries are doing better conserving remaining tiger populations. Russia's May survey found 540 tigers and Nepal's last survey in 2013 found in increase from 155 to 198. Their are indications tigers are migrating and settling in remote northeastern China. Developed countries like German are willing to help range countries. The IUCN in partnership with the German Development Bank began its Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Program in 2014. The first projects will be launched soon. What is happening to the tiger is not unique. Other species and their habitats are disappearing at a disastrous rate. What makes this 6th extinction so tragic is that man, who has dominion over this fellow creatures, can repair the devastation he has wrought if he only commits to doing so.