Big Cats, Big Problems

The Bengal Tiger is a feared, respected, and elegant creature, known for its speed, strength, and wit. But even clever cats such as these stand little to no chance against poachers. Tourists, exotic game hunters, and even the Indian and Bangladesh locals can be found killing these animals, sometimes even in defense. In places such as the Sundarbans, the people who live there are in constant fear of becoming cat food. Not only are they seen as a threat, and glorified by some when killed, but there are many different types of ancient Chinese medicines that use tiger parts, making for a high profit if laws are broken to poach tigers. Poverty, corruption, greed, and ignorance might just mean the end of these powerful animals, though conservation efforts are trying everything they can to keep the population rising despite such destructive ways. Is there a practical alternative to this medicine which could drastically effect the number of tigers being poached? How else can people join together as to stray away from harming the wilds around them?

The leaders of the most problematic areas know there is a real issue and potential danger presented to the ecosystem around tigers. A page on Tigers in Crisis’ website lists thirteen of these effected areas, from Bangladesh to India, Nepal, the Russian Federation, and Vietnam. Each of these places has from one to three different laws instated to protect this wildlife from being poached or disrupted. The Bengal Tiger, being one of the largest species of tigers in the world, is effected drastically by how these laws are put into place and enforced. According to Tigers-Word’s article on the Bengal Tiger, “The biggest threat to [tigers] in India is that their natural habitat continues to be cut away by logging companies.” In these cases, while the laws of the land may help wildlife directly from poachers and environmental famine, these laws don’t protect the environment from those willing to go outside of the law for some extra money. Since it has been reported on Tiger-World’s website that there were only about 2,500 Bengal Tigers in the wild, this deforestation and human influence could be devastating to their survival.

The demand in Asia for tiger parts in traditional Chinese medicines, and a popularity growth in other tiger products has recently put the Bengal Tiger at risk once again, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). They also state that for the first time in one hundred years, the number of tigers in the wild is growing. Even through this status seeking trend of owning tiger pelts and using similar byproducts of the tiger, there is an estimated increase in population from around 3,200 in 2010 to about 3,890 now existing in the wild according to the WWF. Organizations across the board are trying their best to keep it that way, and are working harder than ever to compete with the ever growing popularity of these creatures.

Seeing as how tigers are at the top of their respective food chain, they have been known to attack humans from time to time, though a WCS Russia analysis of tiger-human conflicts shows that half of tigers that attacked people were previously wounded.

Number of tigers that attacked people while wounded (WCS Russia)

This implies an earlier encounter with a human which the tiger was probably not too fond of. Since some villages are closer to the wild than others, and deal more with the wildlife therein on a regular and personal basis. Without proper education and foresight, someone could easily not know what to do if they encountered a king of the wild; it could turn into a frightening situation, and escalate negatively quickly. As stated by the WCS Russia, “Wherever people and large carnivores coexist, conflicts between the two are usually inevitable.” While this has proven to be true, there are still many ways to reduce the number of conflicts between each party, and it all starts with education on the subject to the masses.

A lot of wildlife protecting agencies have been on the tiger case for a long time, and have been increasing their population in a brutal struggle against greedy poachers, and people just protecting themselves from the nearby wilds. The wild tiger population has gone down in the past hundred years from around 100,000 to a mere 4,000 in the 1970’s, but grown to about 6,000 at the turn of the century, according to an article by Save the Tigers.

World Tiger Population (Save the Tigers)

Though times have been grim for these magnificent animals and though poachers have successfully put three different species of tiger on the extinct species list, there is still hope. Everyday people can pitch in by making minor changes to their everyday lives, which in turn will make a big difference for generations to come. The best way to support the cause and help save a natural beauty of life would be to donate between the many foundations supporting this healing process, and to make sure most if not all products bought and supported prove to be protected forest friendly. This can be achieved by looking for the FSC (Forest Stewardship CouncilTM) label on everyday products.

Works Cited

Kasnoff, Craig, eds. Tigers in Crisis. WordPress, 2016. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

Save the Tigers. “Countdown to Extinction.” Save the Tigers, n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

Save the Tigers. “Tiger Subspecies.” Save the Tigers, n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

Tigers in Crisis. “Laws that Protect Tigers.” Tigers in Crisis, n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

Tigers-World. “Bengal Tiger — Panthera Tigris Tigris.” Tigers-World, 16 Jan. 2014. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

WCS Russia. “The Siberian Tiger Project: Managing Tiger-Human Conflicts.” WCS Russia, n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

Woody, Todd. “Only 3,200 Tigers Remain in the Wild; This Map Shows Where.” TakePart, 29 Jul. 2014. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

WWF. “For the First Time in 100 Years, Tiger Numbers are Growing.” World Wildlife Fund, 10 Apr. 2016. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

WWF. “Bengal Tiger: Overview.” World Wildlife Fund, 2016. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.