Today’s Factismal: There are fewer than 4,000 tigers living in the wild today, down from 100,000 in 1913.
If you are a fan of Calvin and Hobbes (and who isn’t?), then you know that:
Tigers are mean
Tigers are fierce
Tigers have teeth
And claws that pierce.
Tigers are great
They can’t be beat
If I was a tiger
That would be neat!
(Poem copyright Bill Watterson)
What you may not know is that tigers are severely endangered. Over the past century, the number of tigers living in the wild has dropped from more than 100,000 to fewer than 4,000. Why has this happened? Mainly because their territory has been reduced over 93%. Where tigers could once roam a large area of virgin jungle and swamps in Turkey, Russia, China, India, Japan, and Indonesia, they are now restricted to just a few small pockets in India and southestern Asia, with only a few animals remaining in Russia. And that habitat loss is accelerating; nearly 41% of their habitat has been lost in the past twenty years alone.
These magnificent cats, with their bold orange and black stripes and powerful jaws, are apex predators that tell us much about the health of the areas where they live. Where tigers thrive, the area is healthy and full of other animals to feed on. But where tigers are rare, the habitat is failing , which should be a warning to the humans living there.
There were once nine sub-species of tiger; unfortunately, three of these (the Bali tiger, the Java tiger, and the Caspian tiger) have gone extinct in the past century – two of them as recently as 1977. The remaining six sub-species are the focus of intensive conservation efforts.
On April 1, 1973, Project Tiger began in India, working to preserve a viable population for generations to come. In the past forty years, they have managed to bring the number of tigers in their managed preserves from a low of 268 animals in nine preserves to a healthier 1,500 tigers spread out over 27 preserves.
If you’d like to help keep these great cats around, then why not join the Tiger Nation?