Ffocusing on the ‘Real’ Tiger

 

Yes, this is Sportsman’s Life; however, we are not speaking about Tiger Woods. Even if he did regain the Number 1 spot in golf last week, we’re focusing on the Tiger – the animal that is more majestic than even ‘Woods’ could ever claim to be.

The tiger is by far the largest of our cats and can weigh over 650 pounds, coming in third behind the beloved bears – Polar and Brown. Unlike the other Tiger that has hit the news recently, the animal has a stellar reputation. The features of this cat are the most recognizable in the world, and the species can even claim more fans than the golfer everyone is talking about.

When speaking of this animal, let’s just say that their canines are not exactly something you want to meet up with anytime soon, and they have reigned for many years as being the most territorial – yet most social animal in the world.

When we’re talking habitat, we must mention that this is one animal that needs far more that eighteen greens in order to be happy. In fact, they need a continuous land mass that would support their prey in order to keep them alive. Downside for the tiger in 2013? The wild tiger numbers (provided by bengal-tigers_10_600x450the WWF) are at an all-time low. A dismal fact that has been posted is that the world has literally lost 97% of wild tigers in only a century. Which means even though they are one of the most revered animals on this planet, they are also extremely vulnerable to everything from hunting to deforestation.

Living in dense populations, tigers come face-to-face with poaching, and the habitat loss has been astounding. 93% of the tiger’s historic range has been destroyed – from the clearing of forests for agriculture and to support the timber trade; to the development of the human world that causes road networks to actually fragment the land they roam – everything seems to be taking the tiger out.

Oddly enough, what many poachers do not realize is that killing off the tigers actually creates far more danger for the populace. When forests shrink and prey gets scarce, tigers are forced to hunt domestic livestock, which is certainly something no one wants to see occur.

To aim the spotlight on this situation a bit more, one of the largest tiger populations in the world can be found in the Sundarbans (a large mangrove forest area shared by India and Bangladesh). Even though the Bengal tiger is protected here, the rising sea levels happening because of climate changes may just end up wiping out the forest before the 22nd Century comes to pass.

Asia, Turkey, Russia – there are many countries that the tiger used to inhabit, but more and more issues cropping up may end up making the tiger an animal that can only be seen at your local zoo – because it will be the only habitat left for them to roam. And when thinking about the amount of land they actually need to survive in – the tiger’s overall health and well-being will be damaged beyond repair.

Charismatic and stunning are two words that go hand-in-hand with this species, and when it comes to the white tiger, the rarity is even more frightening. Bred mostly in zoos, there are now many programs that are breeding the white and orange tiger together in order to solve the problem of their demise. Unfortunately, with the inbreeding, comes the fact that their young are being born with physical defects. Even without all this extra ‘aid,’ the white tiger has never lived as long as their orange ‘friends’, and perhaps it is because of the very rare gene they carry that scientists have said only occur in one out of every 10,000 tiger births.

So what is being done to ensure that tigers remain in the wild? It comes down, yet again, to the WWF and various other organizations that have banded together to enforce the law of ‘zero tolerance’ for tiger poaching across Asia. Aiding enforcement units, they are installing technology to help wildlife rangers, and training personnel from law enforcement and community patrols to help the tiger.

Tiger trade – which means selling their parts – may seem like something that would never be done. But like the rhino and its horn, this ill work is done often. It was just two weeks ago that WWF and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment came together to announce a public service announcement campaign to raise awareness for wild tiger conservation. The reason behind this is because the tiger became headline news once again with the Academy Award winning film, Life of Pi, which shows the tiger in all its loyal glory.

Ang Lee, the director of the movie, states: “Stories like ‘Life of Pi’ are inspired by nature and its magnificent wild species. While film has the power to make us believe in the unbelievable and beautifully capture a tiger’s graceful presence, in reality, the tiger’s world is far from magical. Their true story is one of fighting for survival. Losing tigers would be a tragic loss…therefore ensuring wild tigers have a permanent home will allow them to remain for generations to come.”

True words. Although the Hollywood movie was a phenomenon last year, it is the real tiger that needs to be watched over and protected. They are magic…so making sure they survive is an absolute must!

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