November 21, 2010
Meeting On Tiger Species Extinction Threat

After a 97% decline in the number of tigers from around 100 years ago the number of countries with tigers in their borders has dropped from 25 to 13.

The International Tiger Forum in St Petersburg is being staged in response to a calamitous 97% decline in tigers in the wild over a century.

We could be a dozen years away from total tiger extinction.

Jim Leape, director general of WWF, said that 40 years of conservation efforts had failed to halt poaching, loss of habitat and the decline of prey species. As a result, several subspecies have already died out, the wild population has shrunk to just 3,200 tigers and the number continues to shrink every day.

"The reasons for this disaster are well known," Leape said. "Unless we take drastic action, there will be no tigers by the next year of the tiger in 2022."

I do not see how the tigers are going to be saved given continued population growth, industrialization, and rising demand for tiger parts. They might survive in zoos.

It would make sense to gather DNA samples from as many of the surviving tigers as possible so at least their genetic sequences can be preserved in case the US population ever drops low enough to make realistic to reestablish wild tiger populations. The same makes sense for many other threatened species: get their DNA safely sequenced and stored in databases.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 November 21 05:34 PM  Trends Extinction

JAY said at November 21, 2010 7:18 PM:

I didn't think any tigers lived to be 100.

Bruce said at November 21, 2010 7:52 PM:

The WWF squanders vast quantities of money to "fight global warming". They are not to be trusted. I sympathize about the Tigers. but the WWF is not trustworthy. If they had spent even 1% of the money they squandered on AGW propaganda, the Tigers might be ok.

gnolls dot org said at November 22, 2010 1:56 AM:

The only preservation tactic that works is habitat preservation. Everything else is a delaying tactic and fails in the long run.
The only way to preserve habitat is for people not to live there, or extract resources from it.
The only way for that to happen is for people to voluntarily become poorer, or for there to be less people.
Asking everyone to be poor is futile, and is just a delaying tactic as long as population keeps rising geometrically.

We can collect all the DNA samples we want, but it will do no good unless population growth stops and reverses. And to those who object, I ask: geometric increase on a finite surface only has one possible result no matter what technology you posit, so when do we address the problem? Do we wait until anything larger than a dog is extinct in the wild? Or do we address it now, while there are still beautiful places and animals left to save?

(And to forestall the inevitable "YOU'RE HITLER" argument, I note that we can start by simply removing the financial incentives to have children.)

Chris T said at November 22, 2010 10:36 AM:

I don't foresee a lot of mega fauna surviving in the wild over the next couple centuries.

Phillep Harding said at November 22, 2010 2:17 PM:

Introduce tigers to Central Park. Solve three problems at once. (Tigers, druggies, and liberals) Maybe four, if we can convince the politicians to spend some time, communing with nature.

Maybe clone the tigers, but that's not the only reason to take the samples. Who knows what sort of research will be followed in the future?

Randall Parker said at November 22, 2010 9:17 PM:


I take your point. The number of tigers has declined 97% in the last 100 years. I fixed it.

Chris T,

Agreed. I find this sad. As long as humans keep expanding into the remaining wild areas the survival of megafauna seems extremely unlikely.

REL said at November 23, 2010 6:43 AM:

"I note that we can start by simply removing the financial incentives to have children."

Yes, the easiest way to make money is to have children. I ran the ROI numbers before I decided to have any children and it turned out that if you removed the small tax benefits, children were massively cash-flow negative. I distinctly remember my wife saying "It's a good thing that we will get some small tax benefits, otherwise I would want to go through the world childless."

Dave in Seattle said at November 25, 2010 5:41 PM:

Private ownership of tigers is legal and widespread. Cheetah's cannot be privately owned and are in a much more precarious position. We should allow private ownership and breeding of all endangered and threatened species.

For what we waste fighting AIDS in Africa we could buy a considerable territory on that continent and stock it with whatever animals we desire. Creating wild populations in North America of threatened Asian species could also be done. It would not be difficult to preserve Snow Leopards, Amur Leopards and other endangered fauna in America. Even Siberian Tigers could find a home in Alaska and Western Canada.

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