Michael is an author with a passion for the environment. He is trying to save the planet, one reader at a time!
Why Are Wild Tigers Losing Their Habitat?
Endangered wild tigers are now more likelier than ever to become extinct. Tigers endure endless pressure from severe habitat loss, illegal poaching, and killings from locals in retaliation to a mauling or killing of a person. But this was bound to happen as we are pushing our boundaries across their habitat.
They are also losing ground as humans continue logging, pushing the tiger to become even more displaced and stressed. There are eight original subspecies, and three are now extinct. This happened in a span of half a century. An average of one subspecies becomes extinct every 15-20 years.
Critically Endangered Wild Tigers
We are now bearing witness to a fading species that have been around for over 25 million years! Humans have pushed wild tigers to their breaking point. The following are the most shocking facts about the relentless decline of wild tigers in the past 100 years:
- In the early 1930s, the Bali tiger died out.
- In the 70s, the Caspian went the way of the Bali tiger and vanished from the planet.
- In the 80s, the Javan tiger was the latest original subspecies to be wiped out.
- In the 1900s, there were over 100,000 wild tigers estimated to be around the globe. Today there might be 3,500 tigers left in the wild.
- There are now five remaining subspecies: South China tigers (Pantera-tigris-amoyensis), the Indochinese tigers (Pantera-tigris-corbetti), the Bengal tigers (Pantera-tigris-tigris), the Sumatran tigers (Pantera-tigris-sumatrae), and the notable Siberian (Amur) tigers.
- Even today, all populations of tiger species are on the decline, which means we've been losing the fight to save them.
- The South China tiger, although still on the critically endangered list, has not been seen for years now, and many speculate they may already be extinct.
- The Bengal tiger is the least endangered of the remaining subspecies. It is estimated that there is nearly 2,000 left in Bangladesh, Nepal, and India.
How Wild Tigers Hunt Their Prey
Tigers are the largest breed of Asian cats. Instead of scent, they hunt primarily relying on their extraordinary vision and hearing capabilities. Tigers have been documented to hunt together, but they usually prefer tracking and hunting prey on their own. Tigers are very solitary animals. They prefer to be alone and periodically patrol their own territory.
They prefer stalking their prey through stealth before pouncing with lightning quick ferocity. Tigers can hunt, kill, and consume upwards to 100 pounds of meat in one feeding. Additionally, their territories are factored by the prey that is readily available to them. They generally need vast amounts of space.
In every subspecies, the male tigers will be larger than the female tigers. The Siberian tiger, which is the largest subspecies, may track and sneak up on its prey even though it can weigh up to 680 pounds. The smallest subspecies, the Sumatran, can weigh up to 320 pounds. All individual tigers will mark their territory using their urine and fecal matter. Here are some interesting facts about tigers:
- Tigers are capable of stalking and killing animals over twice their size. They are one of the most feared predatory animals in nature.
- The roar of a tiger can be heard over two miles.
- A tiger's striped coat isn't just for show; it is functional in camouflaging itself from its prey.
- Unlike many other cats, tigers feel very comfortable in water and are excellent swimming.
- When born, tigers are totally blind for the first week of their lives.
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- Tigers have saliva that possess antiseptic properties.
Tigers Life Cycle and Reproduction
Generally, mother tigers usually give birth to liters of one to three cubs. Tigers can become fully independent by the age of two years. Tiger cubs have a reputation for steep mortality rates. On average, half of the liter will not last longer that one or two years of age. However, if every cub dies, a secondary litter can be birthed within six months.
Tigers will reach sexual maturity at four years of age, sometimes even a little sooner. A wild tiger's life span has been documented to reach 28 years of age. As aforementioned, tigers are solitary animals, but there is an exception with the bond between cubs and their mother.
Today, wild tigers are critically endangered. If we do not spread enough awareness soon, it will most likely be too late to save wild tigers from extinction. It is common knowledge now that the tigers surviving today are kept within low density, scattered areas where reserves were set up to protect them.
Here are a few saddening facts about the white tiger. They are not a subspecies; they are the result of a gene that mutated through inbreeding of tigers in captivity. This was done in the name of man's entertainment. Most think white tigers are quite beautiful, and I would have to halfheartedly agree. It's just ironic that such a beautiful creature resulted from man's ugliness.
What Are Their Chances?
Captive Tigers Risks to Human Population
Besides the baseball team, there may very well be Detroit tigers roaming around. America has more captive tigers than the world has wild tigers. There is little regulation on keeping and raising captive tigers. These animals pose a significant threat to surrounding populations. There are no inspections to ensure that these enclosures are secured with the utmost of scrutiny. Many unscrupulous people keep and raise tigers as a business.
When these captive tigers meet their end, they are harvested for their bones, meat, pelts, and other various parts that are worth a small fortune on the black market. Even live tigers themselves will fetch high bids in the underground marketplace. This is no life for a beautiful, majestic animal that is wild at heart.
With no true strict regulation or enforcing, tigers have been turning up everywhere they shouldn't. They are being discovered confined in small apartments or sheds in backyards. Tiger mills breed these animals for profit and amateur sideshow circuses. Only a paltry five percent of all tigers in the U.S. have an arguably adequate life in zoos.
Illegal wild tiger poaching is more prevalent than ever due to the rise in demand from the captive tiger market. One might think that more captive tigers would be better for the wild tiger population, yet it is turning out to be the exact opposite. The more demand that is on the rise, the more inevitably the poaching will increase.
However, the United States is finally taking some action. The Public Works Committee held a hearing on the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act in July 2014. This will greatly reduce the ownership of such exotic and endangered animals.
How to Save Endangered Tigers
It's is estimated that endangered wild tigers will likely be extinct in the next 20 years, or even sooner. Will humans collectively act in time to successfully save wild tigers? Tigers are in a dire and precariously delicate existence. They are nearing the tipping point of extinction, and it's personally saddening that it's not front page news.
Donations can be sent and entrusted to the World Wildlife Fund. Thank you for reading through this very important article, please feel free to leave your suggestions and opinions. Let's all do our part to spread awareness within our social circles of the ongoing plight of wild tigers. Don't hesitate to share this article with friends and your social network.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2014 Michael Kismet