July 29 – Global Tiger Day

Posted on July 29, 2018

They're the largest of all the cat species.

They're pretty solitary...and territorial.

And they live in some of the most crowded places on Earth, India, Bangladesh, and other Southeast Asian nations. 

That last bit puts tigers on a collision course with humans.

Sometimes we feel pretty judgy about humans who push wild animals close to extinction. I mean, how many lion trophies does someone need to have? (I'd say zero.) 

But try to put yourself into the shoes of someone who lives near tigers. Naturally, that someone does not want to be attacked and killed and does not want to lose loved ones - especially children - to a tiger attack. 

Actually, despite the fact that some people in South and Southeast Asia die from tiger attacks every year, tiger attacks are rare. They are often the result of a person surprising a mom with her cubs, say, or a person crouching down to collect firewood and being mistaken for a prey animal. But some tigers who are desperate - perhaps their habitat has shrunk, or a particular tiger has an injury that makes it hard to hunt - some desperate tigers do deliberately attack humans.

Tigers are dangerous creatures...BUT...
...As a species...it is tigers who are in danger!

Of the nine subspecies of tigers on Earth a century ago, three have become extinct. That doesn't sound so so so bad - but experts point out that populations of tigers in the wild have decreased by 95%! In 2006, a dramatic dip in worldwide numbers of tigers caused environmentalists to say that all wild tigers would be extinct within a decade.

But when people act, things can improve. India, especially, went to work to save the tigers, and they have had some success with growing their populations of tigers. Check out some of these charts:

Tigers are endangered because their habitat has been gobbled up by people, or fragmented so that they cannot get from one bit of their hunting grounds to another bit. And because they are hunted - actually, these days, poached (because they are now protected by law). And because they are sometimes killed in retaliation when they kill a person or an animal people care about (livestock, pets). And because of climate change!

To learn more about the gorgeous but endangered tiger subspecies, check out Bioexplorer, Defenders of Wildlife, and National Geographic.

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