Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Saga of the Siberian Tiger

My last blog dealt with the declining vulture population in India. This week we’re going to Russia and Northern China to talk about the Siberian tiger.

This big cat also known as the Amur tiger is in terrible danger. Today, it is estimated 400 to 450 of these tigers remain in the wild. The good news, through conservation efforts by world organizations and government agencies, the species has came back from the brink when it was estimated only 40 tigers were left in their natural habitat in the 1950’s.

But the bad news is the gains made in the last 50 years are about to be wiped away in the next few years. This latest development has world wildlife conservations and experts on edge.

Why? There are a number of reasons:

1)    Poaching: Perhaps the greatest contributor to the tiger’s recent decline. Illegal hunting and the harvesting of tiger organs for traditional medicinal remedies used in China are having a huge impact. This activity is on the rise.

2)    Habitat Destruction: This can mean a number of different things. Increased logging which means road building. With the roads, large territories become cut off. Roads also make it easier for illegal hunters to move about. Climate change via forest fires has also contributed to habitat destruction.

3)    Lack of Law Enforcement: With the economies of China and Russia slowing down, budget cuts to wildlife enforcement will soon follow.  There are simply not enough good people to keep watch and to protect the tigers.

This is all very sad. But you might be saying to yourself there’s very little you can do. You can donate to international wildlife conservation funds and write letters to Chinese and Russian leaders. There are plenty of projects set up exclusively to save the Siberian tiger. Here is one project that has done a lot of work and continues to this day.

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