By staff writers
6 Jul 2008
Wild tigers may soon be a thing of the past, unless urgent action is taken, such as more people adopting a tiger and supporting work for their protection.
Numbers of tigers on a wildlife reserve in Nepal have been decimated by poachers, reports the Daily Telegraph, making it more important than ever that people adopt tigers.
The Bengal tiger population at the Suklaphanta Reserve has been cut by at least 30 per cent in the last few years, according to a WWF survey.
Officials believe that poachers are almost certainly responsible and that there may be only 6-14 tigers left at the Eastern Himalayan site compared to 20-50 in 2005.
The estimates are based on the results of a long-term WWF camera trap study which almost ironically captured images of armed men on poaching expeditions rather than tigers.
The wild Bengal tiger in India is hurtling towards extinction and an Indian government survey last year revealed that there may be as few as 1,500 left.
The scientific survey was ordered after it emerged that one of India’s leading tiger reserves, Sariska in Rajasthan, had been completely emptied of tigers by poachers, provoking a national scandal.
Last May, two tiger skins and nearly 70lbs of tiger bones were seized from the border town of Dhangadi and last month, two separate raids recovered tiger bones being smuggled by local middlemen through the reserve.
When a tiger is poached virtually no evidence is left behind because unlike other species – such as the rhino where only the horn is removed – all its parts are in high demand. The skin, bones and teeth are all used in traditional Chinese medicine and some parts even end up in Tiger Wine sold to tourists.
Jon Miceler, managing director of WWF’s Eastern Himalayas Programme, said: “The loss of tigers in Suklaphanta is undoubtedly linked to the powerful global mafia that controls illegal wildlife trade.
“The evidence suggests that Nepal’s endangered tigers are increasingly vulnerable to this despicable trade that has already emptied several Indian tiger reserves-clearly, this is symptomatic of the larger tiger crisis in the region. We need a stronger, more sustained response to this issue in order to protect the future of tigers in the wild.”
Dr. Sybille Klenzendorf, director of WWF’s Species Conservation Programme, said: ” Every tiger lost to poaching pushes this magnificent animal closer to extinction, Tigers cannot be saved in small forest fragments when faced with a threat like illegal wildlife trade-this is a global problem that needs the concerted effort of governments, grassroots organizations and all concerned.”
Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve is 117 sq miles and is home to tigers, rhinos and the world’s largest flock of Bengal florican (Houbaropsis bengalensis) and swamp deer (Cervus duvauceli). It connects with two tiger reserves in India, Pilbhit and Dudhwa.
WWF believes tiger populations have declined by 95 percent over the past 100 years, and says three sub-species have become extinct with a fourth not seen in the wild for over 25 years.
The World Wildlife Fund is monitoring the tigers in Suklaphanta, and strengthening anti-poaching patrols in the area. You can help to safeguard the future of tigers as well as giving a unique gift to someone you love by adopting one of these tigers.
The World Wildlife Fund want to give tigers the chance to live and breed in relative safety away from the threats of poaching, habitat destruction and forest fires. By adopting a tiger you help enable the World Wildlife Fund to monitor and protecting them in their natural home.
It can all be done quickly and easily online. When you give the gift of adopting a tiger, the person on whose behalf you have bought the gift gets a gift pack including a cuddly tiger toy, a fact booklet about your adopted tiger, a print of your adopted tiger as we as updates on the tiger you have adopted.
Click here to visit the tiger adoption web site where you can adopt a tiger with WWF