If any one animal could be credited with making me a wildlife conservationist, it would be tigers. Thus, the news from TRAFFIC about the plight of tigers in the wild is particularly disturbing.
There are only a few thousand tigers left in the wild, and TRAFFIC reports that parts of 1,069 to 1,220 tigers were seized in tiger range countries in the past decade. And that doesn’t account for the tiger parts that were not seized. The tiger parts include skins, skeletons, bones, teeth and other body parts. I just don’t understand how someone can view a tiger as no more than simply a source of a decoration or a good luck charm.
China, India and Nepal lead the pack of 11 countries where the tiger parts were seized. Half of our world’s wild tigers live in India, so that country’s poachers have the most tigers to choose from.
This is one situation where tougher laws might help. The risk of getting caught must be increased, and seizures and arrests need to be followed by swift prosecution and sentences that reflect the seriousness of crimes against tigers. As well, cultural education must occur to decrease the demand in Asia for tiger parts.
Further, the situation calls for increased commitment by politicians, and an international effort to save the remaining tigers before it’s too late. The report has been published in time for the tiger summit set for St. Petersburg, Russia, later this month. Hopefully the heads of tiger range state governments will make some key commitments to support the Global Tiger Recovery Program which hopes to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022.