International Day of the Tiger – How You Can Make a Difference
July 22, 2016 – From the Chinese zodiac and Buddhism to historical literature and folklore, the largest of the cat species has been a symbol of strength and power throughout history and around the world – the tiger. Unfortunately, the survival of these creatures is in danger. To help bring worldwide attention to the preservation of tigers, July 29 has been set aside as International Day of the Tiger.
Tigers are globally listed as “Endangered” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, with the Malayan and Sumatran sub-species listed as “Critically Endangered”. Despite conservation efforts, less than 3,900 tigers remain in the wild today, where as recently as 100 years ago, upwards of 100,000 tigers roamed across Asia. The decline has been attributed to many factors including poaching, overhunting of the prey species population, habitat loss and human-tiger conflict. China is said to be the largest market for tiger products, with demand also coming from Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and the USA.
You’re probably thinking, “How can I help?” or “What can I do? I’m only one person.” Here are a few ways that you can make a difference and help to save tigers:
1) Do your research
You’ve booked your ticket, secured your accommodations, have your passport in hand and are researching the must-see attractions in Asia. There are so many options out there that it’s hard to know if you’re making the best choice. It’s important to do your research, read reviews, view photos of the properties and look into the ethics of the operators. If you do the legwork before you get there, you’re already miles ahead.
2) Look for “Red Flags”
If the attraction promotes hands-on interaction or the opportunity to take photos with or cuddle tigers, they are not looking out for the best interests of the animals. Instead, look for conservation programs that promote reintroduction to the wild or tours that offer the chance to see tigers from a safe distance. This is not only safer for you, it’s important for the safety and health of the tigers in order to keep them “wild”. Be wary of “guaranteed sightings” – this may imply staged sightings, trained behaviors, etc.
3) Support the Good Guys
Organizations like Panthera and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) are working hard to protect tiger populations and are funded by donations.
In 2006, Panthera released the Tigers Forever program to focus on the most pertinent threats and effective conservation actions. With Panthera and Save the Tigers behind the program, Tigers Forever is working towards the goal of increasing tiger populations by 50% at important sites across Asia over a ten year period. Read more about Panthera’s commitment to saving tigers here.
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is well known for their initiatives with many wildlife species. As part of the TX2 program, WWF is working to enforce zero tolerance of tiger poaching all across Asia and to double wild tiger population numbers by 2022. Read more here.
If you aren’t planning to travel but are passionate about the preservation of tigers, there are things you can do from home too!
- Educate your family and friends that may be planning to travel within Asia about the serious threats against tigers and what they can do to avoid contributing to the issue.
- Organize fun events around your community and donate proceeds to one of the great organizations above.
- Purchase only forest friendly products – this isn’t just paper, but the rubber on your shoes and corks in your wine. Tigers need the forest to thrive, and by making simple changes you can make a difference.
It’s important to do your part to preserve tiger populations. Tigers play a key role in maintaining the balance of ecosystems, so by helping to save them, you’re also helping people!
Photo Credit: Wildland Adventures; Steve Winter/National Geographic Magazine