We must act now to save the tiger
Tigers have been making the headlines already in 2008, sadly for all the wrong reasons. New reports out of India, the species’ remaining ‘stronghold’ in the wild, suggest that there may be as few as 1,400 wild tigers in the country. You are reading that number right: one thousand four hundred tigers. There may be as few as 3,000 left in the wild globally. It seems almost impossible to grasp that we know the species is in crisis; we know the problems tigers face; and yet we are still witnessing a precipitous decline toward extinction.
Insatiable demand for tiger parts and products is a huge part of the problem. A tiger skin recently seized in India was a stark reminder of ongoing pressure being placed on India’s dwindling wild tigers. Then just a few days later, there was more shocking news – 6 tiger carcasses found slaughtered and sliced in half, being smuggled across the border from Thailand into Laos. Likely victims of the demand for traditional medicine.
I must take a moment to congratulate the authorities responsible for these seizures. Wildlife law enforcement officers lay their lives on the line every day—in Africa, in Asia, in America, and elsewhere—to stop poachers and profiteers who reduce magnificent wild animals to bones and skin, soups and tonics, potions and powders.
There is little doubt in my mind that tiger populations have reached crisis point. I do, however, draw reassurance from some significant steps that were made in 2007 by the nations participating in the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to strengthen the ban on farming of tigers for their parts. We will do all we can to prevent China from overturning its national prohibition on commercialisation of tiger parts. We must also continue our crucial projects on the ground working directly to protect and conserve wild tigers, such as Born Free’s Satpura Tiger Landscape Project. Indeed, the recent report of a wild collared tiger, discovered to have travelled an impressive 250 km through the Satpura region in just 4 months, proves just how vital a landscape level approach is to wild tiger conservation.
It is essential that we all make a concerted effort to secure the survival of the tiger. Will future generations applaud us for rescuing tigers from the brink of extinction, or condemn us for allowing them to creep ever closer to the edge? With efforts being undertaken by Born Free and others I very much hope it is the former.
P.s. if you would like to donate to Born Free’s current appeal on tigers and gorillas, please click here