Search for extinct Javan tiger (infographic)

Here, in an infographic, I tell the story in summary of the discovery of a single hair strand in West Java stuck on a fence which may signal that the Javan tiger thought to have been extinct for many years is alive and roaming around the remote forests of that island. Comment: Being somewhat skeptical, I strongly suspect that the Javan tiger is indeed extinct. But the existence of this hair strand needs to be explained.

I wonder if this is a manufactured story to try and drum up a bit of tourist trade? Cynical and skeptical or rational and sensible? Take your pick.

A huge negative to the veracity of this story is that a tiger population on one cannot survive longer than the lifespan of the individual tiger. There is a minimum population size for a species to survive (discussed below).

Search for ‘extinct’ Javan tiger
Search for ‘extinct’ Javan tiger
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

The source of this story is The Times newspaper of 30th March 2024. The scientists were able to compare the DNA of the hair strand found with the DNA of the hair on a 90-year-old stuffed Javan tiger in a museum in the city of Bogor.

I have a page on the Javan tiger which you can access and read by clicking on this link it you are interested.

Hunted Javan tiger from the archives
Hunted Javan tiger from the archives. Picture in the public domain (believed).

Above is a sad picture of a Javan tiger hunted to death and shows the different relationship between people and the tiger from that era. Tigers were regarded as pests for many years in Asia and hunted mercilessly without any regard for conservation. Times have dramatically changed as you can tell by the story in the infographic of the somewhat forelorn and desperate search for a single tiger on Java. No chance I’d suggest. How can the animal procreate? If there is one the species is effectively extinct.

What is the minimum population size for a species to avoid extinction in the wild?

MVP - minimum viable population of a species to avoid extinction in the wild
MVP – minimum viable population of a species to avoid extinction in the wild. Image believed to be in the public domain.

The concept of a minimum viable population (MVP) size is used to estimate the smallest possible size at which a species can sustain its numbers and survive in the wild without facing extinction from natural disasters or other stochastic events. This number can vary greatly depending on the species and environmental conditions, but a commonly cited rule of thumb is the 50/500 rule. It suggests a minimum effective population size of 50 is needed to avoid extinction due to inbreeding depression in the short term, and a size of 500 to ensure long-term survival.

However, some studies suggest that for long-term persistence, a threshold of 5,000 adult individuals may be necessary, regardless of the species’ taxonomy, life history, or environmental conditions. It’s important to note that these figures are general guidelines and the actual MVP can vary widely between species.

RELATED: Bali tiger – discussion on its extinction

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