Tigers are often known to be some of the most beautiful and charismatic mammals on Earth, but unfortunately, land development and poachers are depleting the tiger population. A hundred years ago 100,000 tigers were witnessed to roam in all over Asia, but now only 3,000 survive in the wild. Tigers play a very pivotal role in sustaining the biodiversity of forests, in maintaining healthy ecology, habitat conservation and the livelihoods of rural communities.
While during past 100 years, we have seen 95% reduction in tiger population owing to poaching, habitat loss, man-animal conflict and tiger-tiger conflict. They’re not only hunted for their meat and skins but for their bones, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Poaching of tigers has become an increasing problem in recent years, and it’s taking a heavy toll on these mighty cats. The biggest threat being confronted by the tigers is habitat loss due to animals. As they lose habitat, they lose prey, which means they sometimes turn to domestic livestock for food. This makes them unpopular with ranchers, who may shoot them as pests. Our country is unique in possessing a large number of tigers, despite the growing population but in all other countries tigers have either been eliminated completely (Persian, Javanese and Balanese) or are on the brink of elimination.
However, over the centuries, these tigers have been poached extensively and have been put into “extinct” category throughout the rest of the world except in Gujarat (India) where its population once reached onto the brink of extinction but fortunately brought back to life. In fact, Tigers suffer due to the exploding human population, rapidly disappearing jungles and indiscriminate urbanization. In India many tigers have been poached to satisfy the Tibetans who wear them as traditional dresses while one may be shocked to know that recently in India one national tiger reserve (Sireska) was found to be devoid of tigers as all had been poached.
It is our collective responsibility to promote, protect and expand the wild tigers’ habitats and play an active role in creating awareness among the people on dwindling tiger population, if not, then our next generation may not be able to look at tigers in real life but in photos only while Governments must try to put in more efforts to improve the arrangements to conserve the international pride – the Tiger.