This year, the world endangered species day was celebrated on 15th May. Among the list of the world’s endangered species is the largest member of the cat family, the tiger. There are eight subspecies of tigers, among which three have been extinct. Tigers are nocturnal hunters and generally feed on deers, wild pigs, buffaloes etc; They use their distinctive coats as camouflage as no two have the same stripes. They are hunted for their fur and are also used in traditional medicines.
Tigers were once found across Asia- from Turkey to eastern Russia but over the past century, they have disappeared from the south-west and central Asia. Today, they are found in places like India, China, Bhutan, etc; In the early 19th century, approximately 40,000 royal Bengal tigers were present in India but within seven decades, it declined to a mere 1800. Around 1968, the international union for the conservation of nature declared tigers as an endangered species. From 2005 to 2015 there was a decline of 40% of the tiger population. One of the major reasons for the decline in tiger population was poaching, illegal wildlife trade, lack of protection for tigers, lack of genetic diversity and so on.
Over the years, many national parks like the Corbett national park, Kaziranga national park, Kanha national park and many other reserves have been created. Save the tiger projects like the Project Tiger have also been launched. Project Tiger was launched by the Indian government on 1st April 1973. It was a wildlife conservation project which aimed at protecting Bengal tigers in their natural habitat and from extinction and also to maintain the population of tigers. Tiger census of India in 2006 showed that there were only 1,411 tigers left. This triggered the project and in 2014, there were 2,226 Bengal tigers.. Another campaign to save tigers was the Adopt a Tiger campaign by the World Wildlife Fund ( WWF) to raise funds for the same.
Now, why should one be worried about saving tigers?
Tigers are very unique animals and play a vital role in maintaining a balance in the ecosystem. Tigers are carnivores and are on top of the food chain. If they go extinct then, there will not be a limit for the number of plants that a herbivore eats. Thus, affecting the food chain. Hence, this shows that the ecosystem is not well balanced and that it might not exist for long.
Another important fact is that any animal that goes extinct leaves a scar. For example, when the dodo bird became extinct, the acacia tree, which grew in the same island, also soon became extinct. As we are dependent on the forest for clean air, water, temperature regulation, etc; if a tiger goes extinct, it will affect the forest, in turn, affecting us.
How can we save tigers?
As students, there are many ways that we can help save tigers. To begin with, we can educate ourselves and the people around us about these predators. The more we learn, the more considerate we will be. Another way is to refuse tiger trade by not buying tiger fur, teeth or any products that are made by killing a tiger. We can also donate to organisations by raising funds at school or our workplaces and also not encourage poachers.
Tigers, as well as all endangered, vulnerable and just any animal, has the right to live on our planet with us. When in kindergarten we were taught how to love and share. As the future generation, let us all pledge to protect and care for our fellow beings.