Tigers: The Beauty of Nature
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Recently, the world celebrated “International Tiger Day” on July 29. So, today I want to post about endangered mammal, tigers.
Panthera tigris commonly known as, Royal Bengal Tigers,
are the largest cat species. They are listed as endangered
species in CITES I & priority species in National Parks &
Wildlife Conservation Act 1973 in Nepal.
Tigers are the most charismatic creatures. They usually have narrow black, brown or gray stripes on their heads, bodies' and limbs. Those stripe patterns are as unique as human fingerprints which differ from one tiger to another. They have a body length up to 3.38 m & weight up to 388.7 kg. The lifespan of a captivated tiger is recorded up to 26 years. They feed on large ungulates as prey. Male tigers (after 5 years) & female tigers (after 3½ years) involve themselves in reproduction mostly from late November to early April. The female tiger gives birth to two to four cubs at a time.
There were once nine subspecies of tigers: Bengal, Siberian, Indochinese, South Chinese, Sumatran, Malayan, Caspian, Javan and Bali. Out of the nine subspecies, the last three have already been extinct and the rest are endangered.
Historic tigers range ran from Turkey, Tibetan plateau, Manchuria and the Sea of Okhotsk in South and Southeast Asia. Since 1998, tigers have lost 40 percent of their habitat. At present they occupy only about seven percent of their former range and are confined only in South and Southeast Asia, China and the Russian Far East. They are now found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, Vietnam.
Together with the loss of their habitat, tiger numbers have also been tremendously reduced. In the early 1900s, there were around 100,000 tigers throughout their range. Today, just in one century, the estimated tiger population in the wild has declined to as few as 3,200 globally whereas in Nepal alone there are 198 tigers as per the survey conducted in the year 2013 marking an increment in the population by 63% from the last survey in 2009.
The major threats for tigers are:
1. Illegal trade of tiger skin, bones, meat & tonics in highly expensive price is the major threat of tigers.
2. Conversion of forest land into agriculture land, silviculture etc. & commercial logging as well as human settlement causes habitat loss thus leading tiger extinction.
3. Human- Tiger conflict
4. Lack of proper dietary requirements due to competition for food.
The major conservation approaches for tiger conservation are:
At a “Tiger Summit” held in St. Petersburg Russia in November 2010, the 13 Tiger Range Countries adopted a Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP 2010). The goal is to effectively double the number of wild Tigers by 2022 through actions to:
1. effectively preserve, manage, enhance and protect Tiger habitats;
2. eradicate poaching, smuggling and illegal trade of Tigers, their parts and derivatives;
3. cooperate in transboundary landscape management and in combating illegal trade;
4. engage with indigenous and local communities;
5. increase the effectiveness of Tiger and habitat management; and
6. restore Tigers to their former range.
Having signed “St. Petersburg Declaration on Tiger Conservation” in 2010, Nepal aims to double the number of wild tigers from 121 in 2010 to 250 in 2022. In 2013, there were 198 tigers in Nepal. For the conservation of tigers various plans are made to:
1. Mitigate human- tigers conflict
2. Habitat restoration
3. Control of poaching & illegal trading
4. Engagement of local communities in wildlife conservation etc.
Tigers are our planet’s natural heritage & a symbol of Earth’s biodiversity, so we must act at our level to protect Tigers.