TIGERS ON the threshold of extinction. According to WWF, Tigers are amongst the ten most endangered species in the world. Over the last century more than 95 per cent of the Tiger population has been wiped out & three sub-species are already extinct. Less than 3500 tigers remain in the wild today with around 50 per cent in India and their numbers are declining fast. The world is abuzz with news, views and moves in a bid to save the Tiger.
At the turn of the 20th century, according to sources, India had an estimated 40,000 tigers in the wild. In 2002, based on pug mark census, this number was 3,642. As per the monitoring exercise by Wildlife Institute of India in association with National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Government of India using camera traps, in 2008 we were left with only 1,411 tigers. This number is so small that they will be gone soon if we don’t wake up to the crisis.
With just 1411 tigers left in India as per the last count, the government is worried on how to save the national animal. And thus from cellular phone companies to potato chip manufacturers, every other big brand is being roped in to promote the cause.- a cause that is one of the prime concerns of the nation right now.
But why do we save the tigers? This articles talks about the reason to behind the worldwide movement to save the big cats. In simple words this piece reasons out why you and me, the common man should be interested in saving the tigers. Not only is the tiger a beautiful animal but it is also the indicator of the forest’s health.
Saving the tiger means we save the forest since the tiger cannot live in places where trees have vanished and in turn secure food and water for all. If we make sure tigers live, we will have to make sure that deer, antelope and all other animals that the tiger eats or its prey base live. To make sure that these herbivores live, we must make sure that all the trees, grass and other plants that these prey animals need for food are protected. In short, in this way the whole forest gets saved! Saving the tiger means indirectly saving the forests and in turn saving the environment that is reeling under global warming due to massive deforestation.
Felling trees takes away the precious soil, leaving behind a wasteland. The soil jams up our lakes and dams, reducing their ability to store water. By destroying the tiger’s home, we not only harm tigers, but also ourselves. The tiger thus becomes the symbol for the protection of all species on our earth since it is at the top of the food-chain. This is why we sometimes call the tiger, an apex predator and an indicator of our ecosystem’s health. In short, saving the tiger means saving the earth. Save tigers, save our earth!
What you can do to save the tiger?
The tiger is not just a charismatic species. It’s not just a wild animal living in some forest either. The tiger is a unique animal which plays a pivotal role in the health and diversity of an ecosystem. It is a top predator and is at the apex of the food chain and keeps the population of wild ungulates in check, thereby maintaining the balance between prey herbivores and the vegetation upon which they feed. Therefore the presence of tigers in the forest is an indicator of the well being of the ecosystem. The extinction of this top predator is an indication that its ecosystem is not sufficiently protected, and neither would it exist for long thereafter.
If the tigers go extinct, the entire system would collapse. For e.g. when the Dodos went extinct in Mauritius, one species of Acacia tree stopped regenerating completely. So when a species goes extinct, it leaves behind a scar, which affects the entire ecosystem. Another reason why we need to save the tiger is that our forests are water catchment areas.
When we protect one tiger, we protect about a 100 sq. km of area and thus save other species living in its habitat. Therefore, it’s not just about saving a beautiful animal. It is about making sure that we live a little longer as the forests are known to provide ecological services like clean air, water, pollination, temperature regulation etc. This way, our planet can still be home to our children.