Why is tiger conservation so important?
Tiger Conservation is important to try and prevent the tiger (Panther tigris) from becoming extinct and to protect and preserve the tiger’s natural habitat, including habitat suitability, reintroduction of the tiger’s prey, the elimination of poaching, tiger smuggling, and illegal trade.
Tigers are the largest living big cat on our planet, renowned for their power, strength, and wild beauty.
100 years ago, an estimated 100,000 tigers lived in the wild. Today they continue to vanish from our planet, numbering less than 3,900. How can we imagine a world in which majestic, powerful tigers no longer exist in the wild?
The World Wildlife Fund estimates about 5,000 of the big cats live in captivity around the country, although animal welfare experts say precise numbers are hard to find. That’s compared to the roughly 3,900 wild tigers left in the world, experts estimate.
Most of the tigers in the US are held in backyards, breeding facilities and at small theme parks or roadside attractions, the WWF says. Only about 6% are at accredited zoos, the group says.
But there is hope for tigers through tiger conservation efforts. In the last few years thanks to dedicated efforts by conservationists and governments, they have slowly increased their numbers in India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, and Russia. However, in other parts of Asia including Myanmar, Sumatra Indonesia and Malaysia, tiger numbers are in steep decline due to ongoing poaching and habitat loss.
There is currently one recognized species of tiger, Panthera tigris. Scientists have further classified the tiger into nine subspecies: the extinct Bali, Caspian and Javan subspecies, and the living Malayan, Sumatran, South China, Indochinese, Bengal and Amur (or Siberian) subspecies.
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. If all the cubs in one litter die, a second litter may be produced within five months.
Tigers generally gain independence at around two years of age and attain sexual maturity at age three or four for females and four or five years for males. Juvenile mortality is high, however—about half of all cubs do not survive more than two years. Tigers have been known to reach up to 20 years of age in the wild.
Males of the larger subspecies, the continental tiger, may weigh up to 660 pounds. For males of the smaller subspecies—the Sunda tiger—the upper range is at around 310 pounds. Within both subspecies, males are heavier than females.
Tigers are mostly solitary, apart from associations between mother and offspring. Individual tigers have a large territory, and the size is determined mostly by the availability of prey. Individuals mark their domain with urine, feces, rakes, scrapes, and vocalizing.
Across 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.
Ways to Help
Stop deforestation and save the tiger habitat. Check your labels. Palm oil is found in many everyday products and most of it is made unsustainably, responsible for driving the ongoing loss of habitat home to tigers and other threatened species. If a product does contain palm oil, be sure to look for the RSPO Sustainable palm oil seal.
Take action on climate. You can also personally help tigers by taking action on climate change and reducing your carbon footprint. By saving energy, flying less, using public transportation, eating local, and consuming less red meat, you are helping to give tigers a better chance of survival (and many other species as well).
Visit tigers only at GFAS Accredited Sanctuaries and AZA Accredited Zoos. Do not visit tiger petting facilities. Make sure that the Zoo is contributing to the Tiger Species Survival Plans and supporting tiger conservation in the wild.