The Stripes Run Skin Deep

Today is Global Tiger Day, or if you prefer, International Tiger Day.
I am doing my part to help raise awareness for tiger conservation.

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Tigers are fiercely beautiful, strong, and independent species, but there are only 3,200 of them left in the wild.

This is because  they are being hunted for their fur and other body parts.

In the beginning of the 20th century, the estimated number of tigers were in the hundred thousands. Today, three tiger species are extinct, and others are endangered.

But here’s the thing, why should we save tigers, when they are predators, known to attack even humans?

First, tigers are umbrella species — because they are high up in the circle of life food chain, tiger crisis mean that there are bigger biodiversity crisis in Asia. Because they are on top of the food chain, they have key roles in maintaining the health of ecosystems. Removing a top carnivore can have an impact in the abundance of herbivores and maintenance of the balance of the wildlife population.

Tigers are solitary species, and resident tigers confine themselves to definite territories that can give and satisfy their needs, which basically means, it depends on the abundance of preys. A tigress can have a home range of  20 kmwhile tiger males have larger territories of 60 to 100 km2  .Of course, for reproduction purposes, male ranges can sometimes overlap with some females. Because of this need for large territories, in saving them, they also have to save a lot of the ecosystem – about 100 kmof forest for every tiger.

Finally, it’s undeniable that tigers are among the most beautiful, majestic, and charismatic creatures in the world. Because they reside mostly in Asia and India, tigers can help directly the poor communities in the world, because tourists go where tigers are, and having tiger safaris and sight-seeing (no poaching or hunting, though!)  is a great way to make a living.

Personally, I find tigers very beautiful (and that’s even an understatement), and believe me, the day I hugged a tiger cub was the best experience I had — it even beat travelling out of the country. I want my future kids to see tigers, too, that’s why I want to help save them.

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Here are more facts about tigers:

  • They are the largest wild cats in the world, and easily recognized because of their reddish-orange coat with dark stripes. The ones that live in cold northern areas are bigger than those that live in the tropics.
  • Much like fingerprints on humans, no two tigers have the same stripes. This is how they are recognized by researchers and scientists studying them.
  • Unlike most cats, they enjoy soaking themselves in the water to cool off. They are even strong swimmers, and they can go up to six kilometers.
  • They are hunted for their fur, which are used as rags and coats; and for their body parts, which are used for traditional medicines in some regions.
  • They are very solitary — they live alone, except for mothers and their young (who leave by the age of two). In order to procreate, a male and female come together, but they go their separate ways right after.

 

Sources:

http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/endangered_species/tigers/last_of_the_tigers/whysavetiger/
http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/animals/creaturefeature/tiger/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger#Biology_and_behaviour

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