With all the hype about the “Save the Tiger” campaign, and the PM acknowledging the need for it, what better than the Tiger to start off the blog with🙂 Before I start out to writing, let me warn you forehand, that my exposure to four legged animals is merely through zoo, for want of financial resources, and if I really did venture out into the national parks, I haven’t been blessed with an audience with any of them. Therefore if you feel the incessant need to correct my facts, please do; if you feel the need to shut me up, well go find another blog, all of whatever is written here will be only in my humble opinion!!!
Hmmmm… so the Tiger… The tiger, or Panthera tigris, belongs to the cat family, Felines as we would call them or Felidae (they belong to the family of Felidae and are classified under the mammals) Now that you know this basic stuff, here’s more. These cats are the biggest of them all cats. It is mostly on the top of ever ecological pyramid in the wild, and preys on deer, and other small animals.
Like humans, the tigers come in different packages, what we biology students call subspecies. There were 9 subspecies. Commonly known as the Bengal tiger, the Malayan tiger, the south china tiger, the Sumatran tiger, the Siberian tiger, the Indo-Chinese tiger and the extinct ones – the Javan tiger, the Balinese tiger, the Caspian tiger.
More about the extinct tigers…
The Balinese Tiger, as the name suggests was found in Bali, and was, sadly hunted down to extinction. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) cites that the tiger if not extinct by the 1930s would have been after world war 2 or the 1950’s. Major causes being human induced.
The Javan Tiger, last sighted in 1976. Again we played an important role in shooing away this cat from the face of this planet probably around the 1980’s.
The Caspian Tiger, widespread across southwest Asia. You can imagine what happened here. Desert region habitat, human intervention, want of resource, humans hunting tiger, taking over habitat and Poof! Tiger Gone!!! circa 1970.
Now about the tigers that are living… if you think you can do without reading all this, please do go ahead, but it wouldn’t make sense to relate to something you don’t know much about.
The Malayan Tiger, the little baby in the lot. It was in 2004, that the world recognized this cat as another subspecies of the tiger. There are about only approx. 600 of them left. The Malaysian government recognizes this cat as a national icon, and hence we hope that it also makes an effect to conserve the species.
The South China Tiger is one of the most endangered species of the world (one of the top ten on the list, infact). Interestingly, wikipedia states, that there was no sighting from 1983 to 2007, and in 2007, a farmer spotted one and handed photographs (Thankfully, not tiger parts!!!) to officials thereby passing a law to ban killing of tigers. Currently, there are 59of them, in zoos.
The Sumatran Tiger, the smallest of the tigers. Records indicate that there are about 400-500 of them living in the national parks of the Sumatran islands. Interestingly, genetic study shows unique markers and this could imply that it may develop into a separate species. Conservation for this purpose is emphasized. Major threats as in any case, or rather Major Threat, would be us and our actions.
The Siberian Tiger critically endangered with around 250 living, mostly in national parks. The largest of them all tigers, from the cold region, thick fur, now you know who, why and what poses a threat to them.
The Indo-Chinese Tiger, listed population figures are over a 1000, and few hundreds in the wild. A much smaller cat than the Bengal tiger, it would be great to see it alive instead of someone’s coat or in an acknowledgement note on a Chinese medicine box.
The Bengal Tiger, as of 2005, a worldwide population of 200 and a bulk population of approx, 3000 India-Bangladesh. Project Tiger, something that India started to conserve it has something rather funny in its history. Sariska, a Tiger reserve as of 1978 near Alwar,Rajasthan; tourists complained of not spotting tigers, no matter what they do! circa 2004. No pug marks, no scratches on trees, just no presence of tigers!!! And the Rajasthan government shouts out, that all the tigers had gone out of the reserve on a picnic! Finally Indian Express shouts back, There are no tigers left there. Finally Project Tiger Directorate also declares that there are no tigers left in Sariska anymore circa 2005.
The most recent conservation efforts are from the Save the Tiger campaign, NDTV. It got a lot of media attention and could move some boulders on the way to being heard. Now with the Prime minister as the head of the Wildlife Board, it seems like an easy task – not really. In a span of two years, the numbers have come down drastically to just 1411. The PM of course, puts away money to the purpose (around 650 crore) and the responsibility will be that of the Chief Ministers. Will all this prove beneficial to the wild cat? we will have to wait and watch till the next census happens towards the end of this year. Next post on White Tigers!!!!🙂
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