Global Tiger Day : July 29, 2019 : Hope and Inspiration to Bring Back Tigers from Extinction Crisis!

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June 28, 2019 by Species Ecology

Global Tiger Day : July 29, 2019 : Hope and Inspiration to Bring Back Tigers from Extinction Crisis!

Mohammed Ashraf

Bengal Tiger in Tall Grassland Ecosystem in South Asian Tiger Landscape, image Courtesy: World Wildlife Fund, USA

29th of July is Global Tiger Day also known as International Tiger Day. We see tigers in various commercial and business facets, from fashion motif to our cereal box. I even remember, Exxon the multinational oil giant once televised ad with a slogan ‘Tiger on your tank”! The sheer power and magnificence of tigers captured corporate attention for decades if not century and tiger symbols or brands got embedded into our modern social and cultural fabric.

Help Save Tiger in the Wild. Image Courtesy: World Wildlife Fund, USA

Despite so much admiration and affection, tigers in the wild are facing global extinction crisis in sheer magnitude. To put this into perspective, as early as 1900, there were over 100,000 tigers used to roam all over Asia, by the turn of century, 95% of the tiger population has disappeared from the wild. Three sub species of tigers (Caspian tiger, Bali tiger, and Javan tiger) have completely gone extinct : Thanks to human persecution across tiger range countries. Shockingly there are only 3900 tigers left in the wild with disproportionate population size across 13 tiger range countries. Among 13 countries, few of the nations like Cambodia, Vietnam and China has population size small enough to class as almost extinct. This is because, once the population size become too small then genetically it is not possible to reverse the declining trend to bring back the species from extinction crisis. This small population size is often known as effective population size which is always smaller than real population size. In other words effective population size means genetically, species are not viable to interbreed hence extinct in the wild.

Tiger Cub : A Hope and Inspiration for Future Generation. Image Courtesy : World Wildlife Fund, USA, Tx2 means Doubling Tiger Number by year 2022.

At the moment, India has the largest tiger population over 2000 tigers in the wild, but that is not surprising because India is the largest landmass among all tiger range countries. Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan has small population but governments of these nations are trying to stabilize if not increase the tiger numbers. Russian far east, in an area near Amur river, has roughly 400 tigers. There are tigers in Sumatra and population is declining as we speak.

Tiger numbers at a glance. Image Courtesy: World Wildlife Fund, USA

Hence, the situation for tiger is bleak and saddening. The way, tiger numbers are declining, the species may not survive in the wild next century. I do not like to see that happens and I am sure many of us who grew up with sheer respect and admiration for wild cats, would feel the same. Global tiger day provide us an opportunity to revitalize our spirit to do something, anything to help save tigers in the wild. Individually, we may not have much power, but collectively and globally, we have the power to help conserve tigers in the wild, to restore their forest ecosystem, through education outreach, cultural and social festivals, posters and banners, web pages and blogs and many other ways. To mark the 9th Global Tiger Day, Species Ecology will make an endeavor to do what it can do to help raise awareness and public outreach and conservation education surrounding tigers. I personally plan on writing up essays focusing general information about tigers to scientific studies that have been conducted to help protect this charismatic mega vertebrate that evoke so much of excitement and enlightenment among us. In spite of the fact, tigers are essentially Asian species, I personally feel it is a species we can class it as Global Mega Fauna due to its popularity that does not limit any geo-political boundary. For example, Yosemite National Park in California (first national park in the world), Amazon basin in Brazil and other South America States, Himalaya and its surrounding tiger habitats in Nepal and other South Asian States, Tazmahal in India and Sundarbans mangrove ecosystem (the largest contiguous single tract mangrove forest that harbor wild Bengal tigers in the world) in Bangladesh and Indian part pose no social and or geo political boundaries. These are global ecological assets just like tigers, mountain lion, jaguars and snow leopard as an example. To conclude, I am going to provide you with few basic statistics on how helping to save tigers benefits humans across the globe. This statistics equally apply to any other keystone umbrella species as indicated above.

Bengal Tigers, Image Courtesy: World Wildlife Fund, USA

Tiger landscapes encompass 9 major water sheds in Asia that provide fresh water supply and potable clean drinking water for over 8 million people in Asia.

103 million dollars a year directly generated from tiger tourism in one national park in India. Makes you wonder why live tigers are valuable to society and economy than dead one.

Bengal Tiger in Indian National Park. Image Courtesy : World Wildlife Fund, USA

Large tract of forest protected for tigers host immense biodiversity, birds, mammals, reptiles, fishes, mollusks, invertebrates and trees. Tigers are apex carnivore that sit at the top of the food chain in forest ecosystem. It is a keystone umbrella species meaning helping to conserve tigers not only help tigers and humans but also safeguard suits of biological and ecological diversity that depends on tigers survival. You save tigers, you saving the forest ecosystem in which we humans are intricately related for our own survival.

Finally, forest protected for tigers in Amur region in Russian Far East, can absorb 130,000 tonnes of carbon a year. It works out carbon emission from 25,0000 cars a year. Helping to save tigers and its ecosystems will significantly help curb human induced carbon emission : the main culprit for global warming hence climate change.

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