Happy Global Tiger Day!

Tiger by Danny James Ford. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Today, July 29, is Global Tiger Day. It is a day set aside to honor and protect the most magnificent cat of all, the tiger (Panthera tigris).

The Situation

Tigers are in serious trouble. According to the best estimates from the big cat NGO Panthera, there are only about 3,900 tigers left in the wild. Furthermore, the species currently occupies only 6% of its historic range (Goodrich et al., 2015). For these reasons, tigers are listed as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

The tiger’s dramatic decline, much of which occurred in the past 100 years, is the result of numerous factors. These include: habitat loss and fragmentation, human-tiger conflict (related both to attacks on livestock and human safety), and the overhunting of tigers’ natural prey (Panthera).

Check out this report for more information about the demand for illegal wildlife products. This work is by Alfred Weidinger and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.

However, most damaging of all has been poaching for the illegal wildlife trade. Tigers are hunted both for use in traditional Asian medicine (TAM) and to provide status symbols to the growing middle class in countries like China and Vietnam.

Products such as tiger bone wine are believed to increase consumers’ health and treat a range of ailments (including as arthritis), although there is no evidence to support such claims. Since it is expensive, tiger bone wine is also purchased to show off one’s high standing. The same goes for tiger skins. They serve as an expensive form of decoration for the elite, and are sometimes given as gifts (Sharif, 2014).

More information about the demand for illegal wildlife products can be found in Vian Sharif’s excellent report Analysis of Conservation Initiatives Aimed at Reducing Demand for Traded Wildlife in China and Vietnam.

Tendrel Zangmo: The First Collared Tiger of Bhutan – Great Video

Fortunately, there are people who are working hard to turn the tide for tigers. A friend on Facebook sent me a neat video about tiger conservation in Bhutan, produced by the Bhutan Foundation. It does a good job of explaining some of the work being done there, and it does so in six short minutes. Here is the video:

Get Involved

If you would like to help tigers on this Global Tiger Day, there are plenty of ways to do so. Many conservation organizations are using this occasion to raise money for their crucial work.

Whilst there are a host of groups that are worth supporting (such as the Wildlife Conservation Society), I chose to donate to Panthera. There are two reasons for this.

First, they are strategically focused on tackling the most severe threat to wild tigers: poaching. Panthera bolsters law enforcement efforts throughout Asia in a variety of ways, which you can read about here.

Second, when I was in Belize last summer Panthera’s employees were remarkably kind and patient with me. I can therefore assure you that they hire some of the best people around.

Closing Thoughts

Happy Global Tiger Day! Please take a few minutes to learn more about this magnificent cat, and to support their conservation!

Further Reading:

Panthera tigris – IUCN Red List

Review: Analysis of Conservation Initiatives Aimed at Reducing Demand for Traded Wildlife

The Tiger: The Most Magnificent Cat of All

Tiger – Panthera

29 Thoughts

  1. Those numbers are so disheartening, but the video was beautiful. I especially resonated with how the team relied not just on technology, but on their own spiritual practices for support. Keep up the good and important work of sharing these issues (and solutions) through your site – our world needs people like you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The video was indeed great. We’re too obsessed with technology in the US, assuming it will solve all of our problems; we forget that the production of technology is in itself a major source of environmental and social degradation. What we really need is a reworking of our dominant social and cultural systems, which starts with changing our central values.

      The world needs people who are much more influential than I, but I appreciate your support!

      Liked by 2 people

        1. No, I’ve never been to any places where tigers live. I’d love to see them one day, though.

          For tigers to survive, we need to reduce the demand for products made from them. Luckily there are people working on that in countries like China.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy global tiger day. We took part in it at Hamerton Zoo Park today. Sold a whole bunch of our partners cat toys with all proceeds going to the tiger conservation. :)

    4cats has even made a tiger size toy for the ones in the zoo. ^^

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy Global Tiger Day! It shocked me to read the amount of tigers left in the wild. The reasons tigers are killed are ridiculous and it really needed to change because it’s getting to a point of too late.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The reasons tigers are being killed are ridiculous, aren’t they? The situation for tigers is seriously alarming, but there are bright spots. In some areas with intensive law enforcement and anti-poaching efforts, tiger populations have rebounded. That’s why it’s so important to get poaching under control.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good cause! Ever since I had the privilege of seeing tigers in the wild in India in 2008, I have supported a tiger conservation charity via the Zoological Society of London, aka London Zoo.

    Liked by 1 person

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