By Diane Small
They are symbols of grace and beauty, power and ferociousness, but the wild tiger may soon be nothing but a romantic symbol: with as few as 3,500 wild tigers left in the world, the future for this fiercely beautiful animal is precarious indeed.
The natural habitats of the tiger range throughout India, Indochina, and Southeast Asia, but these territories are now 40 percent smaller than they were in the 1950s, and today tigers occupy a mere 7 percent of their historical habitat. Added to this threat is poaching, which occurs due to demand for ‘trophy’ skins of the tiger, but also due to a twisted demand for the penis of the species–thought by many in China and the Far East to be an aphrodisiac.
On the Indian subcontinent, where the world’s largest tiger population still lives, only 11 percent of their original habitat remains in an increasingly fragmented and often degraded state. Tigers are very much a conservation dependent species, requiring large, continuous forests with access to prey and water and undisturbed areas in which to breed. Such areas are disappearing, due to increased human populations and a consequent demand for more natural resources.
The Satpura forests of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra offer perhaps the best hope for India’s remaining 1,700 wild tigers. Constituting several Tiger Reserves connected by forest corridors, this is the largest viable block of tiger habitat in India. The Satpura Landscape Tiger Programme (SLTP), developed by the Born Free Foundation and the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at the University of Oxford, brings together a network of Indian conservationists working in six Tiger Reserves across this very important tiger range – Bori-Satpuda, Kanha, Melghat, Pench MP, Pench Maharashtra and Tadoba-Andhari– and the habitat corridors linking them.
Through tiger conservation bursaries funded by the Born Free Foundation, these dedicated NGOs and individuals are implementing a variety of conservation activities to protect tiger habitats, mitigate tiger-human conflict, tackle wildlife crime, monitor tiger populations, raise awareness and improve the livelihoods of people living next to tigers.
If you’d like to help Born Free USA save the tiger and other wild animals, the NGO is hosting its annual Art of Wildlife Conservation event at the Taglialatella Galleries in New York City on May 5, 2016. Proceeds from the event will benefit their global work to protect wild animals, especially highly endangered species such as lions, elephants, and rhinos.
They expect 75 to 100 attendees, and the CEO of the group, Adam Roberts, will offer a special presentation that evening. The event will also feature a silent auction, and guests will enjoy complimentary food and wine while learning more about how to support our work to protect wild animals.
To learn more and to ensure future generations don’t group the tiger along with the Dodo, please visit: www.bornfree.org.uk.