China - Tiger Farms
In truth, the Bengal tiger population is not clearly known. Today, December 2018, I have reviewed the Bengal tiger population and I note that Wikipedia states an estimate of 2500 and National Geographic presents a figure of 4000 (which is clearly wrong). It's a difficult position to be in because we do not know with certainty how many Bengal tigers exist at this time.
The general feeling is that there are about 3500 tigers living in the wild on the planet. Most of these are Bengal tigers and some of them are Siberian Tigers. There are also other subspecies of tiger included in this number.
The IUCN Red List website is utterly unhelpful. They should be the ultimate arbiter of population sizes of the wild species but I can't find a figure on their website. They simply say that the population is decreasing. Thank you very much for that!
I would have to conclude that as at 2018 the number of Bengal tigers in the wild is probably in between the figure that I have stated below, which is about 1500 to about 2500 as stated by Wikipedia. There is still a general decline in population size due to human pressures.
The Bengal tiger belongs to the world. It always did and more so now that the world Bengal tiger population is estimated at 1410 (or is it 1411?) at the date of this post - 2011. That is assuming that this figure is correct as it is ever changing downwards. The Bengal tiger is the jewel in the crown of the the world's animals. The world's favorite animal. We don't know how to keep it for the world because individual people like to keep it for themselves, it is that precious.
It is being stolen from the world by habitat loss and poaching for its body so that people can consume it and thereby transfer the tiger's strength to them. It is a shame that people think this; that they have to eat a strong animal to become strong themselves.
There has been constant motivation for people living in India or journeying to the country to kill the tiger for body parts to supply China. A tiger's body is worth £215,000 in China. The bones are the most valuable - crushed and put into wine. It is produced and sold in tiger farms where tigers are inbreed and kept in appalling conditions. But it is cheaper to kill a wild one! It makes economic sense
The Bengal tiger population has been falling consistently as a result and now stands at a precarious 1410. How can these very small fragmented populations survive (see map below)? Won't there be inbreeding and a loss of health, further threatening the Bengal tiger's survival?
I think that you will find that the experts say that a minimum viable population is about 500 (in each area). If that is correct the Bengal tiger is doomed. The Siberian tiger was found to have a population in terms of breeding potential far below its actual population.
The Times newspaper says that the Bengal tiger is under threat because of the tiger body part trade feeding China, as if it were news. It has been that way for decades.
The position is even more precarious for the Bengal tiger now because China can simply not change its ways. They have allowed trade in legally acquired tiger parts. How can we tell if it is legal? And there is rub. It will muddy the already muddy waters of the tiger body part trade and encourage more poachers to kill. A favorite is poison and there is enough corruption in the area to ensure that the so called protected areas in India stay firmly unprotected.
It is arguable, it seems to me that the Bengal tiger population is already unsustainable, which means that even if there was no poaching from now on it would still gradually fade away in the wild.
The Bengal tiger belongs to the world and the world must act.