When you look at an image of a wild tiger (Panthera tigris), what do you see? The largest cat in the world? Majestic beauty? The striking orange coat and distinctive black stripes? An endangered species? One of only 3,200 remaining individuals? A conservation icon? A powerful predator? A man-killer? A hunting trophy? A rug? A roaming medicine cabinet to be poached, cut up, and sold as traditional remedies? A future extinction? Sadly the tiger is all of these things. The prospect of extinction is shocking, heart wrenching, but one day the headline “Wild Tigers EXTINCT” could be the reality. How do you feel now? Tricked by the headline or relieved by the quotation marks?
At the beginning of the 20th century there were an estimated 40,000 wild tigers in India. Today there are just 1,400. In this time, three of the eight tiger subspecies around the world (Bali, Caspian and Javan) have also become extinct. Habitat loss, human conflict and illegal poaching have put this species in crisis. Despite banning the trade of tiger parts in 1993, China remains the largest market. The growing middle classes happily pay for traditional remedies; farmers, smugglers and alternative medicine traders continue making large profits.
Various tiger conservation charities are working to save the species. American actor Leonardo DiCaprio made a million-dollar commitment to the WWF campaign. ‘If we don’t take action now, one of the most iconic animals on our planet could be gone in just a few decades,’ explained DiCaprio.
The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation also launched TigerTime, a worldwide movement aimed at tackling poachers, raising awareness, funding conservation partners, lobbying governments and ultimately saving the tiger. Wildlife artist David Shepherd CBE makes this passionate plea for support:
We can talk all day long about how to save the tiger – but the truth is simple; the killing has to stop! I’m not prepared to see tigers lost to the world and I want everyone who shares my view to stand with me and be heard.
At the time of writing this entry, 347,720 people were standing beside David. This includes celebrity support from Sir Paul McCartney, Joanna Lumley OBE, Susan Sarandon, Jeremy Irons, Ricky Gervais, Stephen Fry, Slash, Peter Egan, Kirsty Gallacher, Liz Bonnin, and Deborah Meaden. Your humble blogger was signature 205,406.
Can you really imagine a world without wild tigers? Please show your support with a TigerTime signature and social media share; together we can save this species.
(Tiger photograph by Nichollas Harrison)