THE BATTLE TO SAVE THE TIGER
In 1900, there was an estimated 100,000 wild tigers, spread all across the vast areas of Asia.
Today, there are about 3000 wild tigers left in this entire world and there is a desperate struggle going on right now, to save the wild tiger from extinction.
There was once eight classical sub-species of tigers: the Bengal Tiger, Siberian Tiger, Sumatran Tiger, Indo-Chinese Tiger, South Chinese Tiger, Caspian Tiger, Javan Tiger, and Balinese Tiger.
The Caspian Tiger, Javan Tiger and the Balinese Tiger are already totally extinct. They're gone.
The South Chinese Tiger is already extinct in the wild, with only about 80 surviving in captivity.
Tigers are disappearing because of one reason: Humans beings are killing them.
We are now in a human created species-terminal-tiger-extinction crisis, where many human created factors have combined together into a killing machine against the continued survival of the wild tiger.
93% of the tiger’s original territory, where they used to live in Asia, has been lost. The forests, where they used to live, have been cut for profit or they have been burned or bulldozed flat for farming or economic development.
Wild tigers are going extinct because of a massive explosion of human population, which continues to over-run this earth and the tigers.
About 3.3 billion people, roughly half of the world’s population, live in tiger range states.
Tiger range human populations in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam have more than doubled in the last 45 years.
And it’s going to get worse for the tiger, because all tiger range human populations still continue to increase today, except in Russia.
Right now, we have an enormous world population of about 7 billion people.
That enormous population is projected to increase to 9 billion people in the very near future, with most of that huge increase of 2 billion people taking place in Asia, where the tiger is already almost extinct.
India is home to about 50% of the world’s surviving wild tiger population, and India alone is projected to increase by another 400 million people by the year 2050!
Right now, India has about 1,200,000,000 people. Adding 400 million people to that total will leave the Bengal tiger with no place left to live or to hide.
Tiger habitat has already been drastically reduced in India, and tigers have already become extinct in almost all areas of India.
Even worse, the Indian Parliament has already passed a law called the Recognition of Forest Rights Act, which allows for the transfer of land rights to tribal dwellers of huge areas of potential tiger habitat. It also could grant rights to timber cutting, mining, and farming within protected areas, such as tiger reserves.
The Indian Forest Rights Act can only devastate the tiny remaining remnant of tigers. As of September, 2009, 2,500,000 land claims have been filed.
The Bengal Tiger cannot survive all that.
Asia’s political and business leaders believe that more economic development is the sole path to progress. And so, all across Asia, the wild tiger’s remaining habitat is destroyed for more dams, more farms, more bulldozing and burning of forests, nuclear power plants, mining, more development, etc., etc.
Making matters worse, there is big money in illegally killing tigers.
Organized criminal gangs illegally kill tigers for profit.
Destitute peasants, living in poverty, illegally kill tigers for profit.
For as little as .72 cents for the purchase of a poison or pesticide, or $16.00 for a steel trap, or the purchase of a cheap wire snare, a single dead tiger can bring enormous profits.
And those wire snares kill everything, including deer, wild pigs, and other animals, which the tiger needs to survive.
Guns and 4-wheel drive vehicles are easy to get now, making the killing of wild tigers that much easier.
Because poachers are seldom caught, the risk of poaching is low, the investment to kill a tiger is also low, and the potential rewards are huge.
And so, the illegal poaching of wild tigers is ruthless, relentless, and it is everywhere, in all tiger range countries.
Poverty stimulates the poaching of tiger prey animals, because illegally killing deer, and other prey, in a protected tiger reserve gets you meat that can be sold or eaten, leaving an empty forest for the tiger to try to live in, and they can’t.
There are cases of disbursing young tigers starving to death because they had nothing to eat.
Female tigers cannot raise cubs unless they have enough animal prey to feed them. And when a female tiger is killed by a poacher, her baby cubs starve to death.
Illegally grazing your cattle in a tiger reserve gets you well fed cattle that you can eat, sell or milk.
And so the animal prey base of the tiger is wiped out, because millions and millions of livestock over-run the tiger reserves and the surviving forests, consuming the vegetation and degrading the environment.
Desperate hungry tigers attack livestock to live, and they are killed in retaliation.
Weak laws, meant to protect the tiger, are not enforced by corrupt and weak governments.
Ruthless and well connected perpetrators of wildlife crimes are seldom brought to justice.
Wild tigers have paid a steep penalty because of the human desire to wear a tiger’s skin to impress other humans or because humans moronically assume they can adopt the personality of the fierce and brave tiger if they wear the tiger’s skin. And so there is a ready market for tiger skins.
Corrupt bureaucrats and high ranking authorities are everywhere in Asia, and they sell out the tiger, they sell out the animal prey base that tigers need live on, and they sell out the forest the tiger needs to live.
Tiger range governments lack the political will to save tigers, they lack the political will to save wildlife, and they lack the political will to save the forests.
Tigers are being lost because criminal conspiracies between politicians, the military, and the private sector, absolutely swamp the best efforts of tiger conservation in Asia.
And the worst threat of all, to the continued survival of the wild tiger, is the brutal Chinese black market for tiger parts.
China is the black hole pulling in dead tigers.
Tiger poaching in Asia is driven by Chinese demand for tiger bones, body parts, and for tiger skins.
Traditional Chinese medicine uses tiger bones, body parts, and organs, as a part of many traditional medicines. Tiger parts are supposed to cure everything from toothaches to malaria to acne to casting out demons.
All of which is pure fantasy!
This means that this magnificent animal is being exterminated because vast numbers of Chinese believe in a superstitious delusion!
To its’ credit, tiger bone medicines and tonics are officially banned by the government in China. Yet tiger bone products are sold everywhere in the world.
So long as the Chinese keep buying, the killing of wild tigers will continue on to its’ logical conclusion, which is extinction in the wild, unless something more is done.
In all cases, the forest that the tiger needs to live in, the animal wildlife that the tiger needs to live on, and the tiger population itself, just fades away, dying a death of a thousand cuts, leaving us today with this tiny remnant of about 3000 wild tigers, holding on to life against all odds.
Tragically, this situation is a death spiral for the tiger, because the ever increasing scarcity of wild tigers makes every surviving wild tiger ever more valuable to poachers, which stimulates ever more poachers to kill even more tigers.
I’m sure everyone has seen the movie “King Kong.” Economic exploitation was the reason Kong was brought back to civilization. It wasn’t beauty that killed the beast, it was economics and technology that he could not resist. In his jungle, Kong was King. In the human jungle, King Kong was dead meat, just like the wild tiger is.
The sad fact is that forests in Asia, and all that live within them, are fair game
for humans, despite all the laws, because exploitation makes money; conservation does not.
All these human created factors have combined together, creating a synergistic wild tiger extinction crisis in Asia.
To give you an idea of just how bad things are, in 2009, in Indonesia, a tiger named Sheila was poached, while she was inside a cage, inside a zoo!
In Sariska Tiger Reserve, in 2004, all the tigers were killed by poachers. In other words, in a legally protected tiger reserve, very close to the Indian capital city of Delhi, guarded by 300 guards, Sariska Tiger Reserve was a tiger reserve with no tigers. Zero. Poachers walked into the park and shot them all.
Siberian Tigers, known as Amur Tigers in Russia, are famous all around this world.
Yet, in Russia, 40,000 to 60,000 registered hunters, with guns, surround a measly 300 to 500 wild Siberian Tigers. That’s all that’s left! 300 to 500 Siberian Tigers.
And the poaching of those Siberian Tigers is continuous and relentless.
And those same Russian hunters compete with the tigers for the same animal prey base that tigers need to survive, leaving an empty forest for the Siberian Tiger to try to live in.
As you can see, poachers are prepared to slaughter tigers to the very last blood stained dollar, unless something more is done.
Well, there is hope.
How to save the wild tiger is a problem that can be solved. We can save this beautiful animal.
If we humans make space for the tiger and stop killing it, then it will survive.
If we humans don’t make room for the tiger and stop killing it, then it will not survive.
With wild tigers annihilated, tigers will survive only in zoos, like at the Oregon Zoo which has two tigers, or as pets in someone’s back yard, or they will be raised in breeding farms, like chickens, for the production of superstitious medicines or to be eaten.
Basically, tigers need 5 things to survive and thrive: tigers need territory, habitat, prey animals, water and no poaching.
If tigers had those 5 things, they would surge back from the brink of extinction, and this war would be won, because tigers are extremely tough and they are prolific breeders if they have those 5 things.
Tigers have the ability to live almost anywhere, and they are not picky about diet. Tigers can tolerate an unbelievably wide range of habitat.
They can live in hot, dry forests, mangrove swamps, tropical forests, or pine, oak or birch forests. They can survive in temperatures of -34 degrees C. They have been found at 13,000 feet above sea level, which is about 2,000 feet higher than the top of Mt. Hood, which is the highest point in Oregon.
Because of this marvelous flexibility, any land area that can support high densities of prey can also support tigers.
What this means is, the exact geographic location of land on this planet is not very important, so long as that land can support high densities of tiger prey. That’s the key.
If tiger prey can live there, tigers can live there. And therefore, it does need not be solely in Asia.
Tigers are resilient, flexible and persistent. This is a magnificent, iconic animal, it is worthy to be saved.
Tigers do not belong just to poachers. The tiger belongs to all of us. It is nature’s gift to all of humanity.
Losing the wild tiger would be a crime against humanity and a crime against Mother Nature.
If you are looking for a worthy cause to support, this is it.
Whether or not any wild tigers survive in the long term depends entirely on the goodwill of human beings, such as you and I. But most people are not aware of this battle to save the wild tiger.
We need bold new efforts and new ideas to save the wild tiger, and I’ll tell you why.
World alarm for the survival of the wild tiger was first sounded in 1969.
In the 1980s, many programs were started, spending millions of dollars, trying to save the wild tiger. At that time, in the 1980s, there was an estimated 8000 wild tigers left.
In 1987, all international trade in tiger products was made illegal by international treaty. At least, that is what it says on a piece of paper.
Despite heroic efforts by scientists, volunteers, conservationists, organizations, and some governments, not to mention the millions of dollars spent, the number of wild tigers still continued to decline, from the estimated 8000 of the 1980s, to the estimated 3000 of today.
Those tiger conservation efforts continue today, but they have failed.
Proof positive of that failure is the continued decline from the estimated 8000 tigers of the 1980s, to the estimated 3000 of today, while those tiger conservation efforts were going on.
Those efforts are not saving the tiger, but they are slowing down the extinction rate of the tiger, giving a last ditch window of opportunity to save the wild tiger from extinction.
To make myself clear, I approve of the continuation of tiger conservation in all tiger range countries because they are helping to preserve the species and slowing down the extinction rate.
But I contend, and submit to you, that the end is not very far away, because the facts logically predict the extinction of the wild tiger, unless something more is done.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service enforces the Endangered Species Act. The tiger is listed as one of the endangered species under this law. On its website, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service quotes experts as saying that more than 500 tigers are killed each year.
This tiny remnant of 3000 wild tigers still continues to shrink, and time is running out.
The tiger will not be saved by small ideas, or doing more of the same things that have already failed. We need to brainstorm and innovate, because if nothing more is done, wild tigers are toast.
Let’s look at reality and repeat the facts: Loss of habitat and exploding human populations hungry for land and industrial development and farming and ruthless and relentless poaching of tigers and poaching of tiger prey and weak and vague laws which are not enforced by apathetic governments and the human desire to wear tiger skins and corruption among bureaucrats and high ranking authorities and desperate people living in poverty and short-sighted business elites and the ready availability of four-wheel drive vehicles, guns, poisons and snares and the ever growing demand for superstitious tiger bone medicines, have created a synergistic species-terminal crisis for wild tigers in Asia, where each factor clawing away at tigers, combines together against tigers in the wild.
If we keep doing what has been already been done, and do nothing more in addition thereto, the logical end of this death-spiral-tiger-killing-crisis is extinction in the wild. Period. The end.
I have a poem for you. It’s called “Another Tack.”
Like when a sailing ship changes direction, it is “tacking” to take advantage of the wind. Another definition of “tack” would be “a change in policy or new line of action.”
When wind and waves assail your ship,
And anchors from the bottom slip;
When clouds of mist obscure your sun,
And foaming waters madly run:
It’s time for you to change your plan
And make another port while you can!
When disaster opens your luckless door,
And struts across the creaking floor;
When fortune flees and leaves you bare,
And former friends but coldly stare:
It’s time for you to take another tack,
And show the world you’re coming back!
That is not my poem. The original was written by Lilburn Townsend, and I changed it to make my point, that we need a new line of action to save the tiger.
Bold new ideas are needed, such as transplanting the Siberian Tiger from Russia to Alaska. The climate and terrain of Alaska is very similar to Russia, and Alaska has vast national and state parks, with abundant game animals.
To make clear what I am proposing, I am not proposing to kidnap the entire world population of tigers, and then bring them to North America.
I approve of the continued existence of the Siberian Tiger in Siberia, Russia. And I applaud the people, and their efforts, that are trying to save the wild tiger in Siberia. Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken an interest in trying to save the Siberian Tiger.
And I applaud the people, and their efforts, in all other tiger range countries, that are trying to save their respective wild tiger populations.
They believe that tiger conservation in Asia can still work, and that is where we differ.
I believe, based on the facts, that this tiny remaining remnant of wild tigers will simply be over-run and smothered, under an avalanche of humans, in light of the massive population increases that are still coming to Asia, where the wild tiger is already almost extinct.
My goal of bringing the tiger to the North American Continent is not contrary to the goal of tiger conservation in Asia; it is complimentary, in that we’re all trying to save the wild tiger. If I can help tiger conservation in Asia, I intend to do so.
I hope that all wild tiger populations in the world, prosper and multiply. I wish them well.
But the facts argue otherwise.
What I want to do, and what I am proposing, is to add and create additional tiger range territory, by transplanting a nucleus of breeding, wild Siberian Tigers from Russia to Alaska, and then make sure that those transplanted tigers have the 5 things that they need to survive and thrive.
Accomplishing that, would change the odds in favor of the survival of the wild tiger, no matter what happened to the tiger in Asia.
Texas is huge and it is the second largest state in the union. Yet Alaska is more than twice as large as Texas, and Alaska is also the least densely populated of the 50 states.
Alaska is larger than all but 18 sovereign countries of the world.
I believe that there is room somewhere in that vast Alaskan area, for the Siberian Tiger to continue to live.
I have other ideas, but that is sufficient for the purposes of this petition.
On a biological basis, this is an easy specie to save, because they are tough, flexible, persistent, can live just about anywhere, like in Alaska, can eat just about anything, and they breed well. In other words, this is not a waste of time. The tigers can do it, if given the chance.
But, on a land use basis, the way forward will not be easy. There are competing claims to the ownership and use of land, such as existing public and private property rights, federal and state laws, and by humans who already live there.
Saving the wild tiger will require formidable organization and effort, because humans do not want to give up one inch of land to any predator. Instead, we are hardwired to kill predators, on sight.
Creating a plan is one thing, and getting it adopted is quite another. The way forward will be a slugging match. I need as much help as I can get.
This is a prodigious animal. It is in its evolutionary prime. It can be saved. This war can be won.
Saving the wild tiger is not about tigers. Saving the wild tiger is about managing people.
That’s the real issue:
How do we persuade people to give the tiger habitat and territory, with sufficient animal prey and water, and then just to leave it alone?
That’s all they need. The tigers and Mother Nature will take it from there.
The only solution I can see is to win the hearts and minds of people. If we can win public opinion, then we can save the wild tiger.
If a large enough and loud enough segment of the population organizes to support the transplantation of the tiger to the North American Continent, and then insist and demand that it be done, then it will get done.
But why should you worry about wild tigers? What difference does it make to you or me, if wild tigers are annihilated on the other side of this planet?
I say to you, that we should save the tiger because it is the right thing to do.
Conservation without moral values cannot sustain itself. This ethical responsibility goes far, far beyond any utilitarian argument that reduces all animals to economics, and every animal to a production unit justifying their continued existence only by commercial value.
The plight of the tiger is like an oil gauge warning light coming on in your car. It is a warning! You better pull over and turn off your engine or your car is going to blow up!
Hidden behind the Plight of the Tiger is the moral imperative to save this planet.
Saving the wild tiger is a worthy goal, in and of itself.
But, in addition thereto, the tragic situation of the tiger is symbolic of what else is going wrong.
Animals, even giant animals such as the imaginary King Kong, or elephants, rhinos, gorillas, or tigers, are no match for the killing power of humans. Animals are helpless before our guns, technology and bulldozers. Human beings are the Apex Predators on this earth. We’ll kill anything, we'll eat anything, and we'll do anything, no matter how bizarre or savage.
Our treatment of animals is more than ever a test of our human character, of mankind's capacity for reason, mercy and kindness.
"But of the inferior animals, generations and generations suffer and expire without any chance of relief or redress, unless it be granted by the generosity and justice of man" Julius Ames, The Spirit of Humanity
We human beings have already casually wiped out countless species all over this planet, and it’s time we grow up and stop doing that.
Preserving nature is not a luxury. It is what keeps us alive. If we destroy this planet Earth, we all go and everything goes! This planet Earth has to last us, and our descendants, forever. There are no other planet Earths around.
Biologists have begun to understand that nature is a chain of dominoes: if you pull enough pieces out, the whole thing falls down.
If we lose enough critical parts, the organic machine of nature will fail.
If we lose the animals, we lose the eco-systems. If we lose the eco-systems, the processes of life will grind to a halt. And the game is over for us and the tiger.
So we should turn off the Death Star that we are, stop killing our way across this planet, and we should heal this planet Earth. It is not too late to undo some of the damage we have done.
Victor Hugo once said:
“Greater than the tread of mighty armies is an idea whose time has come.”
If we can win public opinion to our side, then transplanting the Siberian Tiger from Russia to Alaska is an idea whose time has come.
Informing and educating the public is the key to saving the wild tiger.
To help save this splendid animal, just talk about it, with your friends, neighbors and family. Most people are astonished to learn that wild tigers are almost extinct. And if you can raise the issue in your local media, then so much the better.
I ask that you please sign my petition. And ask your friends, neighbors and family to sign also.
Signing this petition is crucial to developing a loud and clear global voice to save the wild tiger from extinction, with a new plan of action.
The clock of tiger extinction is ticking.
If we don’t act now, when?
If not you, who?
I thank you for your time and attention.
BARRY LANE-PRESIDENT AND CEO
BIG CATS FOREVER, INC.