Tiger is Facing It’s Last Stand
Tiger cubs in Bandavgarh Tiger Reserve - photo by Niranj Vaidyanathan (Flickr)
It is said that the tiger is facing it's last stand (Times newspaper 15th September 2010). However, this thought has perhaps been in the minds of many conservationists for a number of years.
There are more tigers in Texas than in the wild! To me, that pretty much explains it all. Humankind does not see itself living in harmony with the tiger unless the tiger is under the total control of people - meaning in captivity.
The Times reported on a University of Cambridge study published in the journal PLoS Biology. The authors concluded that attempts to protect the tiger over the past two decades has largely failed as resources are spread too thinly and the tiger populations in certain regions and reserves are too low to be sustainable and for there to a realistic chance of numbers increasing.
The study concluded that conservation should be focused on a smaller number of core breeding areas and funding as a whole be doubled to $82 million per year. This is indeed a last stand proposal.
The study proposes that in India there be 18 core breeding areas. In all 42 core areas are proposed, six of which relate to the Siberian tiger, the habitat of which is found almost entirely in the Primorsky Krai region of Far Eastern Russia. The current area of conservation for the Siberian tiger covers the vast majority of Primorsky Krai. The key breeding areas proposed for the Siberian tiger are roughly indicated on the map below to give a feel for the concept by the proposals.
In Cambodia the tigers are presumed extinct where once there was "a significant population of tigers". And in northern China there is little if no evidence of the presence of tigers which is unsurprising as this is the country that fails to quell the desire in China for tiger body parts. It is the big business of tiger body parts that drives the poachers to succeed in killing the tigers in the so called protected reserves. It is still cheaper to kill a wild tiger for body parts than to farm them like cattle in captivity! Business runs the extinction of the tiger and is surprises me that more is not done to tackle the primary root source of the problem; the killing of tigers for traditional Chinese medicine. The concept of tigers as a business resource is seen in the sale of tigers in the west.
There are only about 1,000 breeding females tigers left in the wild and about 3,500 tigers as a whole adding all the sub species together.
One of the most vulnerable in the Sumatran tiger as its habitat is the forests of Sumatra and they are being cut down for...yes, you guessed, big business. There are proposals for 8 core breeding sites in Sumatra.
The study concluded that conservation efforts have been "misguided" and that is it time for a new strategy. Once tiger populations have been stabilized and signs of population growth established the possibility of "an Asia-wide network of large landscapes for tigers" is not ruled out.
These are only proposals. One of the problems, perhaps the most serious problem facing tiger conservation is the lack of true worldwide coordination and cooperation by all Asian countries. On that basis it is far from certain that the proposals will be taken up by those in authority.
No doubt these proposals will be discussed at the forthcoming "tiger summit" in St. Petersburg, Russia in November 2010, but I for one personally severely doubt that they will be taken up.
The only real solution is to put pressure on the Chinese government to regulate and enforce new principles governing traditional Chinese medicine. There is no need today to put real tiger body parts into medicine. There are better alternatives. Let's stop the demand for dead tigers rather than trying to do the impossible; stopping poaching.
Tiger is Facing It's Last Stand -- Note:
1. Times newspaper citing the study and Dr. John Robinson one of the authors of the study.