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Tigers: A Future That’s Anything But Bright

Today, July 29, marks World Tiger Day – where we celebrate one of the world’s most iconic, revered, and most loved animals. From the villainous Shere Khan of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Jungle Book’ to the far more affable Tigger from A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, tigers have figured prominently in our literature. Tigers have also inspired artists from the early Japanese dynasties to our own founder, David Shepherd. Even their enigmatic stripes have influenced fashion houses the world over.

Perhaps most famously, William Blake, in his 1974 poem ‘The Tyger’, caught imaginations in time immemorial, with the following line.

Tyger, Tyger, burning bright, In the forests of the night…

Unfortunately, though, the future of the tiger is far from bright. All six of the remaining subspecies of tiger are listed as endangered or critically endangered. A further three are now gone forever.

Surya Ramachandran

World Tiger Day was established in 2010 on this date, when the 13 countries representing the tiger’s existing geographical range came together to create Tx2. It marked a global goal to double the number of wild tigers by the year 2022 – the next Chinese year of the tiger in the calendar.

Back then, wild tiger numbers were at a record low of just an estimated 3,200. Today, tiger populations are estimated to be 4,500 – although top end figures suggest that could be slightly higher, at 5,000. However, either way, it is clear the ambitious aim of Tx2 has not been achieved.

In fact, tiger numbers have declined by a shocking 96% in just the last 100 years. The illegal trade in tigers and tiger parts, made worse by captive breeding facilities across Asia and South Africa, alongside threats from habitat loss and human-wildlife conflict, has pushed them to the brink of extinction. You can find out more about the threats facing faced by tigers here.

Credit Save The Tiger Fund.

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) has launched its latest appeal to help save tigers in their natural environment.

We’re doing this because tragically, there are more tigers in captivity than in the wild. In the southern US state of Texas alone, there could be as many as 5,000 tigers in private hands, equaling and perhaps eclipsing the wild population in one go.

The reverence with which we view tigers, hinted at in how prominently they feature in our arts and literature, is one of the aspects that puts a target on their backs. Tiger parts are a highly demanded component of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Worse still, tiger meat, blood, and other infusions are consumed in the belief they offer status-enhancing and other medicinal qualities.

Captive breeding facilities muddy the waters of the trade, not only giving legitimacy to the demand for tiger products but also providing an in-road into the market for illegally sourced tigers and tiger parts.

This World Tiger Day, we’re asking for your help to change this. Your donation could enable us to fund investigations that help convict tiger traffickers and show criminal syndicates they have become the target. It could help the projects we support establish more anti-poaching patrols in vital tiger habitats, protecting them and the entire ecosystems they inhabit. Most importantly, your donation means we can continue doing the vital work we do, from working with grassroots projects to lobbying on the world political stage on behalf of wild tigers.

We can’t do it without you, so please donate to our Tiger Appeal today, so we can counter the threats to wild tigers in Thailand, India, and the Far East.

With your help, we really can make a difference and help turn the tide on extinction.

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Andrew White
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

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