WASHINGTON, DC, February 10, 2010 – As many Asian countries prepare to celebrate Year of the Tiger beginning February 14, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reports that tigers are in crisis around the world, including here in the United States, where more tigers are kept in captivity than are alive in the wild throughout Asia. As few as 3,200 tigers exist in the wild in Asia where they are threatened by poaching, habitat loss, illegal trafficking and the conversion of forests for infrastructure and plantations.
WWF is releasing a new interactive map of the world’s top 10 tiger trouble spots and the main threats against tigers. WWF is also launching a campaign: Tx2: Double or Nothing to support tiger range states in their goal of doubling wild tiger numbers by the next Year of the Tiger in 2022.
The issues highlighted in the trouble spots map (www.worldwildlife.org/troublespots) include:
- Pulp, paper, palm oil and rubber companies are devastating the forests of Indonesia and Malaysia, home to two endangered tiger sub-species;
- Hundreds of new or proposed dams and roads in the Mekong region will fragment tiger habitat;
- Illegal trafficking in tiger bones, skins and meat feeds a continued demand in East and Southeast Asia;
- More tigers are kept in captivity in the U.S. than are left in the wild -- and there are few regulations to keep these tigers from ending up on the black market. The largest numbers of captive tigers are in Texas (an estimated 3,000+), but they are also kept in other states;
- Poaching of tigers and their prey, along with a major increase in logging is taking a heavy toll on Amur, or Siberian, tigers;
- Tigers and humans are increasingly coming into conflict in India as tiger habitats shrink;
- Climate change could reduce tiger habitat in Bangladesh’s Sundarbans mangroves by 96 percent.
I expect the habitat loss to continue due to growing human populations and industrialization. Biotechnological innovations that increase the uses of land to make agricultural products (most notably biofuels) might well accelerate this process.
Tigers have already lost 93% of their historic range.
Three tiger sub-species have gone extinct since the 1940s and a fourth one, the South China tiger, has not been seen in the wild in 25 years. Tigers occupy just seven percent of their historic range. But they can thrive if they have strong protection from poaching and habitat loss and enough prey to eat.
Lions and tigers and bears. Oh my, where did they all go?
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2010 February 10 10:33 PM Trends Habitat Loss|