Tiger poaching has long been an issue that has plagued the wild animal population. Their coats and bones are prized possessions and this has created a profitable underground market for their skins. Poachers of tigers need to bring large weapons with them in order to be successful, which also means it is difficult for some enforcement agencies to stop the practice.
In 2013, there were 42 tigers that were documented as being killed by poachers.
Tiger Poaching Facts
Although the numbers of confirmed poaching deaths has dropped dramatically from the 121 tigers that were killed in 1995, there is a sad truth that is hidden in this statistic. Many investigators come across tigers that are dead out in the wild and when there is no verification of poaching, even if it is suspected, and then it is not included in the overall counts that are tracked.
- Only 7% of the historical habitats where tigers used to roam in the wild are currently occupied with animals.
- A century ago, there were over 100k tigers that were roaming the wild, but now there may be as few as 3,200 animals.
- On average, Asian customs officials find the smuggled parts from at least 200 tigers per year.
- Over the last decade, between official counts and confiscations, it is estimated that 1,000 tigers have been killed for their parts, or 25% of the total population in the wild.
- The parts from a single tiger can fetch as much as $50,000 on the black market today.
- Some countries still allow for captive tiger breeding even though international commercial trade of tigers has been banned since 1987.
- A tiger skin could sell for approximately $4,250 in 1977, about $16,880 in 2015 dollars.
- Tiger bones are highly sought after for use in medicines and health tonics.
The sad truth is that tigers in the wild are going to be extinct within the next couple decades if trends continue the way that they are. When some parts of the animal are considered good luck and the skins are considered a status symbol, these majestic animals are being exploited simply for social and aesthetic appeal. There are some traditional alternative medicines that use tiger bones for treatments, but with the high cost of tiger parts, most of the black market trade for tigers isn’t going to medicines. It’s going toward a pelt that can be hung on a wall or placed on a floor. Add in the fact that tigers are being bred in captivity just so they can be slaughtered and tiger poaching really does become a sad affair indeed.
How Many Tigers Are Really Out There?
- The United States has one of the largest populations of captive tigers in the world, with an estimated population of about 5,000 animals.
- Zoos aren’t the only place where captive tigers can be found. Rescue centers, private ownership, and even the backyard of a home in the city can all be a place where you can find a tiger.
- Many jurisdictions allow for someone to own a tiger without notifying their neighbors or local officials of the animal.
- In some states in the US, it is easier to purchase a tiger for a pet than it is to adopt a dog from a local animal shelter.
This is good news and it is bad news. If tiger ownership is pretty easy and people are attracted to the idea of owning an exotic animal, then the extinction of the species might be prevented because of captivity ownership. It also means that at some point, tiger poaching will become a thing of the past. The sad truth, however, is that to get to this point, all of the wild tigers will have been removed from their habitat and either placed in captivity or killed for their parts. With only small pockets of their habitats remaining, which make it difficult for tigers to successfully reproduce, there’s one question to ask. Is a domesticated, fully captive species of animal really the best course of action to take for the good of the world?
Why Are Tigers Struggling So Much To Survive?
- In the last 25 years, some countries that support tiger habitats have lost up to 50% of their total forest cover to agricultural activities.
- Around the world, forests are disappearing at a rate that can be as much as 3,800 football fields per minute.
- As humans enter into the tiger’s natural habitat, it increases the risks of human-tiger conflict, which further adds to the numbers of deaths that are encountered.
- A tiger can consume up to 88 pounds of meat at one time, but they hunt alone instead of in a pack most of the time, which increases their vulnerability.
- About 50% of all tiger cubs do not survive for more than 2 years.
- Just one tiger needs about 25,000 acres of forest in order to properly survive.
- According to a WWF study, global warming that increases sea levels by 12 inches in total could wipe out nearly all of the remaining tiger habitats of some species by 2070.
Tigers are really struggling right now because the need for humanity to expand is taking a precedence over the need for the tiger to survive. Even with pockets of protected land, it just isn’t enough space for a tiger to be able to thrive and grow. When tigers are confined to small pockets of space, it also makes it a lot easier for poachers to be able to take advantage of the animal so they can pocket a quick profit. What does this all add up to? A dangerous situation that could threaten the balance of local Eco-systems all across Asia if nothing is done to stop these kill numbers every year. Saving tigers might seem like a difficult task, but it’s really pretty simple. If they have space, prey, and protection from human involvement, they will thrive. That’s a goal we must all look toward.