Tigers are the largest cats in the world and the largest land carnivore. They are amazingly powerful and agile hunters with strong teeth and jaws. They live all across Asia. Tigers are really good swimmers. They will dive into water for many reasons, including escaping flies. They can easily cross large rivers. Tigers are usually reddish-orange with black stripes, a white belly, and white spots on its ears. Tigers are solitary and mostly hunt at night. Tigers are very fast, sometimes running up to 40mph, though they can only do that for a very short time. Tigers are very similar to lions, so similar, in fact, that without their unique fur patterns it would be almost impossible to distinguish one from another. Tiger’s stripe patterns are used to blend into their surroundings. No two tiger’s stripe patterns are alike, like fingerprints. There are 9 subspecies of tigers, and three of them are extinct. The most numerous is the Bengali tiger with around 2,500 and the rarest is the South China tiger with only around 30 in the wild. One of the most endangered species is the Sumatran tiger, or Panthera tigris (subspecies sumatrae). It is critically endangered with only about 400 left. Sumatran tigers used to live all over the Sunda Islands in Indonesia, now the 400 left all live in Sumatra.
Why Are They Endangered?
The main reasons why tigers are endangered are habitat loss and poaching. About 20% of the habitat loss behind tigers becoming endangered is because of palm oil plantations. Palm oil is the most popular vegetable oil in the world, and clearing the tiger’s habitat for oil palm plantations severely hurts tiger populations. Since tigers live solitarily and need space to hunt and ambush prey, loss of habitat is a serious issue for tiger conservation. Because of habitat loss, Sumatran tigers and other tigers have to walk farther and farther to find prey. Poaching is another reason why tigers are endangered. Tigers are poached for several body parts. Tiger bones, teeth, skin and many other appendages are used for decorations, medicine, and food. Bones are sometimes used to make wine, teeth for jewelry, and skin for furniture. Because of habitat loss and poaching, tigers now occupy about 7% of the land they historically lived in. Most Sumatran tigers live in protected areas like national parks.
Sumatran tigers are top predators and an essential part of the ecosystem. The tiger’s ecosystem, like all ecosystems, is very complicated and dependent on everything. Every animal and plant and fungi are needed and have something to balance it out. When animals, without something to balance them out, come, they can wreak havoc, or they can help and become an essential part of the environment, like honeybees. An animal that is wreaking havoc on other species because it can’t seem to think about anything other than itself its Homo sapiens. We don’t seem to understand that other animals are not here to serve us, and we are not better than other species, including trees. Extinction is a natural process when it happens naturally, but thanks to us, it’s not happening normally.
What Can You Do?
You can try and limit the amount of palm oil you use because palm oil plantations is one of the main reasons tigers are becoming more and more endangered because the palm oil plantations are taking the habitat they need to live and hunt. You can also try and raise awareness about the tiger’s plight. Almost everyone knows about the majestic tiger, but few know how endangered some tigers really are. You can tell people that tigers are real, living beings, not just pictures. And of course, you can not buy tiger products, like medicine made from bones of tigers, which has no proven medical use. Tigers are a beautiful and interesting animal and we must try to save them from extinction.
"Sunda Tigers." World Wildlife Fund, www.worldwildlife.org/species/sunda-tiger. Accessed 13 Apr. 2020.
"Sumatran Tigers." National Geographic, National Geographic Society, www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/s/sumatran-tiger/. Accessed 13 Apr. 2020.
"Tiger." Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/tiger. Accessed 13 Apr. 2020.
*all pictures used with permission, and/or taken from the sites above.