Tigers are the largest of the four “big cats” which also includes the lion, jaguar, and leopard. They are a predator at the top of the food chain (called an apex predator) and feed on medium to large animals. They can be found in the eastern and southern parts of Asia, although their range has decreased significantly over the last few centuries. They are now listed as an endangered species. Let’s take a look at why this decline has happened.
Why are tigers an endangered species?
It is estimated that there were 100,000 tigers in the wild at the beginning of the 20th century. Today, some estimates place this number as low as 1,500. There are two main reasons for this decline which are hunting/poaching and habitat destruction. Even though fashion trends are changing, tigers are still illegally hunted for their valuable fur. They also hunted because many Asian cultures believe that certain parts of the tiger have medicinal properties. Habitat destruction usually occurs due to human development. It may also include deforestation, such as logging or clearing land for agriculture. Some tigers are even poisoned by farmers in an attempt to protect their livestock.
Conservation efforts are now underway to try and protect this important animal. The most well known of these is “Project Tiger” which was launched in India in 1973, which now includes over 40 tiger reserves. There are also projects that are aimed at repairing the habitat of the tiger to encourage population growth.