Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Panthera tigris

This is one of my favorite subjects-- tiger facing extinction, and I couldn't stress enough the importance of keeping the animal alive so that the generations to come can still see the animal.
Thanks to early explorers, we are now unable to witness the dumb expression of the Dodo (extinct 1681) nor the ferocity of the Tasmanian Tiger (extinct 1933).

Tasmanian Tiger
The tiger is the largest member of the cat family, growing up to 3.3 meters in length and weighing up to 300 kilogram, with canine reaching 4 inches(approximately 10cm) long.

Tigers can only be found in Asia, ranging from the Russian Steppe to South East Asia.

There are 8 subspecies of tiger; 3 of which are now extinct. Now we are left with the Bengal tiger, the Siberian or Amur tiger, Sumatran tiger, Indochinese tiger and also the South China tiger. The Bengal tiger has killed more people than any other subspecies, while the Siberian tiger is the largest of all tigers.

Tiger's body parts are utilized in traditional medicine in China. Skin, bone, teeth, and even the penis are used to cure ailment or simply as complementary medicine.

The tiger is at the top of the food chain. Destroying tiger means there would be no predator to control the number of herbivors.
A Chital, tiger's favorite prey.

It is, however, very difficult to control tiger poaching.

A tiger is killed for a mere INR25,000 (US$540) in India, and for a poor family in India that's a very tempting amount and can easily support them for months.
The carcass is then skinned and transported to the border via secret route, and finally ends up in remote black markets in China.


Luckily for us and the animal, Sunderban has quite a number of tigers. It has the highest density of tiger in the world, with 19-20 tigers per sq kilometers. It is a land divided between Bangladesh and India. Villagers living in Sunderban travel daily into the forests to collect firewood, honey etc. With so many tigers around with so little prey, tiger attacks on humans is expected. The villagers have no option but to continually pray for their loved ones, hoping for protection from the gods.

For once the villagers came up with the idea of wearing a face mask at the back of their head, since tigers always attack from behind. It worked for a while and the number of attacks dropped. But soon the animal learned the trick and the attacks resumed.

There was a case where a group of fishermen was attacked in the middle of the river. They were resting on their boat after fishing at night, and they didn't hear the sound of a tiger swimming towards them (tigers are excellent swimmers).

The tiger climbed on board and attacked one of the fishermen and jumped back into the water.
The corpse was found the next morning, half-eaten.

The reason why Sunderban tigers are so attracted to human flesh is unclear.

A tiger attacking a Mahout on an elephant. He lost two of his fingers.
Cases like this, however, doesn't deter the villagers off their faith. They believe that tiger is the protector of the forest, and the death of the villagers are essential to ward off development in that area.

Despite the tiger's domination in Sunderban, it doesn't fare well in other parts of the world.

As we develop further, the tiger loses its habitat and food. Their predicament is further exacerbated by the constant demand of tiger product from the most populated country in the world where majority of the people believe that tiger products are good for health. The fact is, tiger products can be easily replaced by other complementary food or medicine.

It is estimated that there were an estimated 100,000 tigers living in the wild a century ago, and the number plummeted sharply since, and today there are no more than 5000 tigers living in the wild. That's a staggering 95% drop in number! Imagine our human population drops to merely 5000 individuals in a century.

What should we do? What can you do?

Avoid buying any tiger-related product.

Support wildlife saving program (if there's any).

Tell your friends/blog about it.

It's time for everyone to do a part.



  1. Thanks for your interest in the nature , Malcom ! It is relaxing and teaching at the same time

  2. When using the scientific name 'Panthera tigris' the latter word must begin with a lower case, also the name should be in italics.

  3. Very interesting focus of points and photographs!
    Tigers must be protected like many other things, and that includes their habitat...alas, one more reason to conclude there are too many people in the world.



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