The Green Blog
Save the Tiger!
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July 29 is International Save the Tiger Day. Now, more than ever, this wild, beautiful animal's existence is severely threatened.

This day was founded in 2010 at an international summit that had been called in response to the shocking news that 97% of all wild tigers had disappeared in the last century, Many international organizations are involved in the day, including the World Wildlife Foundation, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Smithsonian Institute.

The big cat is revered, admired and feared in equal parts by millions of people around the world. If forests are emptied of every last tiger, all that will remain are distant legends, zoo sightings, and one massive breach of trust.

As a large predator, the tiger plays a key role in maintaining healthy ecosystems. These ecosystems supply both nature and people with fresh water, food, and health – which means by saving the tiger, we are helping people, too. Consider these facts:
  • 97% of the world's wild tiger population is gone - less than 3,000 exist today.
  • We have to act now or this iconic animal could be extinct in less than 20 years.
  • Man is solely responsible for the slaughter of the tiger for commercial gain.
In the natural world, the tiger's only predator is man. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) warns: "If the wild tiger population continues to decline at the current rate, recovery may not be possible."

The staggering growth in the human population throughout the tiger's range countries means less and less space for the tiger and the depletion of its prey, forcing it into conflict with humans. Tigers are mostly solitary, apart from mother-offspring associations. However, individuals living close to one another may display sociable behavior and at times, adults may even share a kill. Tigers have dens in caves, tree hollows and dense vegetation. They are mostly nocturnal but in the northern part of its range, the Amur subspecies may also be active during the day in winter.

Tigers generally gain independence at 2 years of age and attain sexual maturity at 3-4 years for females and at 4-5 years for males. Juvenile mortality is high however: about half of all cubs do not survive more than 2 years. Tigers have been known to reach the age of 26 years in the wild.

Tigers are at the top of the food chain. They mainly eat large mammals, such as pigs, deer, antelope, buffalo, and gaur. Smaller mammals and birds are occasional prey. Tigers have also been known to eat crocodiles, fish, birds, reptiles, and even other predators like leopards and bears. After eating its fill, the tiger may cover the remains with grass or debris and then return for additional meals over the next several days.

What is driving the tiger to extinction?
Loss of habitat, which includes the results of illegal logging and commercial plantations. Hunting in the first half of the 20th century, for trophies and as a form of pest control, devastated tiger numbers.

Poaching. The demand for tiger parts for trophies and traditional Chinese medicine has driven the tiger to the brink of extinction. The World Wide Fund for Nature estimates the tiger population at 3,200. Four tigers are being killed every week. The overall population is down from an estimated 100,000 at the beginning of the 20th century. Many range countries lack the capacity and resources to properly monitor tiger and prey populations. Policies conducive to ensuring long-term survival of the tiger are often lacking. Where they do exist, implementation is often ineffective.

What can I do to save the tiger?
Donate to tiger projects WWF is raising emergency funds for anti-poaching patrols - the most important thing we can do in the short-term to save tigers. Adopt a tiger today to join in this effort!

Another great organization working to save the tiger is Tiger Time, founded by David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, an adaptable and flexible, non-bureaucratic organization responding promptly to conservation threats by supporting trusted, reputable individuals and organizations operating in the field. Lean on administration but generous on funding, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation supports a range of innovative, vital and far-reaching projects throughout Africa and Asia, achieving real results for wildlife survival. Sir Paul McCartney, Ricky Gervais, Susan Sarandon, Joan Jett and Jeremy Irons are just some of the celebrities that support this worthwhile effort. Learn more here.

Don't buy anything containing tiger parts

Poaching of tigers is driven by continued demand for tiger parts - like bones for Traditional Chinese Medicine and skins for clothes. If you buy such items, you are directly helping to exterminate the last of the wild tigers.

Buy forest-friendly products Sumatra's forests are being logged for the paper industry and cleared for oil palm plantations. After poaching, the biggest threat to tigers is the destruction of their forest home - mainly due to illegal logging and conversion to agriculture, particularly commercial oil palm plantations. You can help stop this habitat loss by buying products from sustainable forestry and agriculture operations. So when you're out shopping, look for:
- Certified paper and wood products
- Products made from certified sustainable palm oil. If you can't find any, ask your supermarket or shop why they are not stocking any ... and not helping tigers, and many other animals, to survive. Greenpeace has more information on why palm oil is such a threat to tigers and their habitat here.
- Sustainable coffee. Illegally grown coffee in Sumatra is driving the destruction of tiger habitat. Watch where your coffee comes from - and choose coffee grown according to environmentally-friendly principles.
Look for credible eco-labels FSCVxCsx8 copy.jpg    For example, the Forest Stewardship Council label ensures that paper and wood products come from well-managed forests.

Spread the word The more people realize what simple steps can be taken to save the tiger, the more success we will have. So go on, get your friends, your family, and your workmates to help, too! WWF offers Tiger e-cards, so you can send a special e-card to friends and family and help spread the word about tiger conservation!

Another way to save tigers: The World Wildlife Federation estimates that there are approximately 5,000 tigers kept as exotic pets in the U.S. -- significantly more tigers than there are in the wild in Asia.  You can take action now  to save tigers confined as exotic pets -- a practice that is as dangerous for the animal as it is for the owners and the surrounding community.

Update: WWF Reports Success for Tigers!

Additional sources: Wikipedia
Endangered Species Coalition