International Tiger Day, July 29th
Friday, July 29th, is International Tiger Day, an annual worldwide celebration of tigers! While we celebrate the world’s largest cat, International Tiger Day is also a day to raise awareness of the urgent plight of tigers. Tigers once roamed the entire continent of Asia, but with human expansion, they have lost over 93% of their original range. Friday, July 29th, is International Tiger Day, an annual worldwide celebration of tigers! While we celebrate the world’s largest cat, International Tiger Day is also a day to raise awareness of the urgent plight of tigers. Tigers once roamed the entire continent of Asia, but with human expansion, they have lost over 93% of their original range.
They now survive in small, isolated pockets of forest, where they are vulnerable to poaching and inbreeding. Out of the six existing tiger subspecies, four subspecies have been classified as Endangered by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), while the other two subspecies have been listed as Critically Endangered. Poaching, habitat loss and habitat degradation are causing global tiger populations to plummet. Today, there are only an estimated 3,000-3,600 tigers remaining worldwide.
The Indochinese tiger, native to Cambodia, has recently been declared functionally extinct in the country. Fortunately, Cambodia is committed to conserving tigers in the region and has launched the Cambodia Tiger Action Plan (CTAP) as part of Tx2, a global initiative to double the number of tigers worldwide by 2022.
Wildlife Alliance will be a key player in this initiative and is working closely with the government on possible tiger reintroduction into a protected forest. Our initial step has been to conduct a prey base survey in order to determine suitable habitats where tigers can possibly be reintroduced. Wildlife Alliance has set up camera traps at a pilot site in the Cardamom forest to determine the prey base in the area. Early photos have shown that there is a high number of sambar deer and wild pigs in the area. Though unlikely, Wildlife Alliance is also monitoring the photos for any evidence of existing tigers in the area.
This year, experts from Malaysia suggested that the numbers of tigers have fallen from their initial estimate of 500 to as few as 250 individuals while the numbers of tigers in Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar remains unknown. There are thought to be no breeding populations of tigers in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. However, there is hope. This month, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation is meeting to assess the status of wild tigers in Thailand. The Malaysian Government recently announced that they will be conducting their first national tiger survey and the Cambodian Government is planning to reintroduce tigers, with WWF’s support.
Next year is the halfway point in Tx2. We are at a pivotal moment in time if we are to succeed in the amazing goal to double wild tigers. We need the commitment and dedication from all government. And we definitely need the passion, enthusiasm and unwavering support from the public.
Globally, the plight of the tiger remains a pressing issue, and we are on the verge of losing this beautiful and iconic species. Tigers will never get this chance again, and neither will mankind.
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