29 of July was Global Tiger Day.
Today, 31 of July 2016, we have lost almost 97% of tigers in the wild in a little bit over 100 years.
100 years ago there were more than 100.000 tigers living in the wild, today there are approximately 3.890.
Of the 9 species of tigers recorded, 3 have already become extinct in the last 80 years and many – myself included – fear that tigers in the wild might become 100% extinct in the next 20 years.
20 years from now – yes, 20 years from now if current trends continue – Bengal tigers living in the jungles of India and Bhutan, and Malay tigers roaming the Malay Peninsula in Thailand, may be nothing more than memories of times past.
Of the 6 remaining tiger subspecies, 4 are considered endangered (according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature – IUCN) and 2 are considered critically endangered.
While there have been amazing conservation efforts in recent years, with tiger populations, for the first time in the last 100 years, increasing due to the relentless commitment of conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts, local communities and governments, there are 3,890 wild tigers and that number is far, so far from being a good number.
The global goal is to double wild tiger numbers by 2022, the next Chinese Year of the Tiger. It is an ambitious yet attainable goal that demands full commitment of tiger range countries and requires working across landscapes and trans-boundary cooperation. It “involves increasing protection where the tigers are currently, maintaining wildlife corridors and connectivity between areas and then boosting resources and protection for where tigers can be in the future, when their numbers have increased”.
While tiger conservation has intrinsic value in itself – tigers are amongst the most iconic and majestic animals on Earth and they are part of our natural and cultural heritage – they are crucial for maintaining healthy ecosystems. Tigers are top predators, which means they play a vital role in controlling the numbers of other species thus keeping the natural world balanced.
By protecting tigers we are protecting forests, forests that sustain not only wildlife but local communities that depend on forests for their livelihoods and the people around the world – and amongst them you and me – that rely on forests for clean air and water, food and products as medicines and many others.
By protecting wild tigers we are showing that conservation and development not only are not mutually exclusive, they actually walk hand in hand.
By protecting wild tigers we are showing that we acknowledge and are grateful for being part of a greater and vaster natural world that we simply inherited and that just like we were born into it, we believe we have the moral obligation to do the same for coming generations.
BONUS: Want to help tigers' conservation work? Get involve here.