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Why Are Tigers Endangered? The 4 Major Threats

Why are tigers endangered
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / 12019

Closer than ever to extinction, tiger numbers are consistently declining. There are several reasons why tigers are endangered, and each of them is human-caused.

Tigers are powerful, beautiful creatures, and the largest of all Asian big cats. They have incredible sight and hearing that they use to stalk their prey. While you may see tigers coupled up in zoos, they are actually traditionally solitary animals. Tigers spend most of their life alone, and only mothers and young cubs stick together. Mature tigers hunt and survive on their own, covering large areas of territory.

While there are nine different subspecies of the tiger, only six remain. Unfortunately, three subspecies have already been rendered extinct. The extinct subspecies include the Caspian Tiger, Bali Tiger and Javan Tiger. Today, less than four thousand wild tigers remain worldwide, and all six tiger subspecies are considered endangered. They reside in thirteen different countries, primarily across Asia.

  • Siberian Tiger: the Siberian Tiger can be found in cold, snowy environments across Russia, China and Korea. They tend to have pale orange fur, and are known as the largest of the tiger species. Siberian Tigers typically hunt deer and antelope, but they’ll take down a bear if needed. 
  • Bengal Tiger: the Bengal Tiger is almost as big as the Siberian Tiger. They have bright orange fur and are found in India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. Some Bengal Tigers have a genetic mutation which results in white fur tigers with blue eyes. 
  • Indochinese Tiger: found across Southeast Asia, the Indochinese Tiger is characterized by its thin stripes. With less than four hundred remaining, some experts have stated the Indochinese Tiger should be listed as critically endangered. 
  • Malayan Tiger: the critically endangered Malayan Tiger resides throughout Southeast Asia. They are fairly short and small. 
  • South China Tiger: this very small, rare tiger is critically endangered and close to extinction. There are less than fifty remaining and they are all in captivity. 
  • Sumatran Tiger: the smallest of all tigers, Sumatran Tigers are found only on Sumatra Island, Indonesia. They are the only surviving tiger species in the nation. They are also known for their uniquely dark, defined stripes. 

Why Tigers are Endangered

White tigers result from a very rare genetic mutation.
White tigers result from a very rare genetic mutation.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Photography-Course-Leice)
  1. Habitat Loss: tigers have already lost 95 percent of their natural habitat to humans. Deforestation and land clearing for timber, farming, road construction and housing development have all contributed. Tigers need expansive land to survive and thrive, so the remaining small swaths of land have pushed them toward extinction. As people and tigers compete for space, tigers lose access to prey and become much more vulnerable to poaching. Pushed from protected lands as food becomes scarce, tigers find themselves in human spaces where they are seen as a threat, so they are shot and killed.  
  2. Climate Change: rising sea levels threaten several tiger communities on the coast of the Indian Ocean in India and Bangladesh. 
  3. Poaching: tigers are often poached as their parts can be consumed in different rituals, medicines, jewelry, clothing and more. Their pelts, claws, bones and meat can all be sold on the black market. 
  4. Captive Tigers: commercial breeding and sale of captive tigers contribute to illegal trade of tigers and tiger products. Increased demand for illegal tiger products exacerbates poaching and undermines efforts to recover wild tiger populations.

How to Help Tigers

Find out how to help endangered tigers.
Find out how to help endangered tigers.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / andibreit)
  • Pressure your representatives: government officials are responsible for granting protected lands for tigers, and for putting plans in place to catch criminal poachers and breeders. You can send emails, pick up the phone, vote and attend demonstrations to put pressure on your policy makers to prioritize tiger conservation. 
  • Be a responsible consumer: make sure you are not contributing to the illegal breeding, hunting and trading of tigers and tiger products. Be careful not to purchase any products with tiger ingredients.
  • Do your research: part of being a responsible consumer is to be knowledgeable about who you are giving your money to. Unfortunately, unethical breeding, trading and trafficking of tigers is common. While there are places you can see tigers either in captivity or on protected lands, some of these visiting centers are fronts for illegal activity. Tiger farms such as Tiger Temple in Thailand, for example, have been caught abusing and killing these endangered animals for profit.
  • Donate: donate to non-profit organizations who are working to restore tiger populations, such as the World Wildlife Fund
  • Fight climate change: protect the planet and its tigers by taking everyday steps to combat climate change.
  • Spread the word: inform others about the dangers tigers are facing and tell them how they can help. Being vocal is important — so talk to your loved ones, post on social media and warn people to be careful where they put their money, especially when traveling throughout Asia. 

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