International World Tiger Day is a special day dedicated to celebrating the world’s largest cat species and raises awareness about their struggles in the wild. Turpentine Creek currently has 44 tigers. All of which gets to live in their forever home, away from entertainment facilities and private ownership. Unfortunately, there are still around 7,000 tigers privately-owned across the United States. We are continually fighting at TCWR to ban private ownership and stop the abuse and neglect of these magnificent creatures. Not only are they heavily exploited in captivity, but their wild counterparts are fighting for survival across Asia, with only 3,900 left in the wild.
Tigers in the Wild
As an apex predator, tigers have evolved to use their keen senses to catch their prey. Sight and sound are two of the most important senses for hunting. They are not able to see colors as vividly as people, but they can detect the slightest twitch of an ear or tail from their prey. Being ambush predators, tigers will quietly sneak as close as possible to their prey without making a single sound. They do not chase their prey, instead, they pounce with full force, grasping their catch with their claws and biting it in the neck for a fatal attack. They are only successful 20-30% of the time they try and hunt.
Tigers use their sense of smell to communicate with one another and protect their vast territory. They use scent glands all over their bodies, rubbing against or scratching trees to claim their domain, and are continually spraying urine everywhere in their territory. If they smell anything different than their scent, they know that competition has been in their area, whether a potential mate or a rival.
Tigers in Decline
Since the beginning of the century, tiger numbers have dropped by more than 95%. This decline to due mainly because of human-wildlife conflict, illegal wildlife trade, habitat loss, and fragmentation. This species has been restricted to only 7% of their original range and their numbers have decreased to 3,900. Palm oil production is a significant contributor to habitat loss for the Sumatran tigers. Losing this amount of area pushes them closer and closer to people, leaving them little space to find the necessary space and food for survival, and causes human-wildlife conflict.
Many cultures seek tigers for their parts, as some cultures believe they hold medicinal properties. Poachers kill tigers for their body parts and to sell their furs, and use their bones for a popular tiger bone wine drink in Asian medicine. Unfortunately, they are worth more dead than they are alive. Instead of being able to roam freely, they are kept in tiger farms to supply the demand for trade. The IUCN Redlist considers all five subspecies as endangered. However, for the first time in conservation history, wild tiger numbers are on the rise!
With more tigers living in private ownership in the U.S. than in the wild, it is time to take action! This Tiger Day, let your state representative know you are supporting the Big Cat Public Safety Act, aiming to prohibit the private ownership of big cats and ask them to support it as well. You can also support conservationist efforts across the world. These efforts are attempting to save tiger habitats but also patrolling the habitat for traps poachers have set up. Be a voice for the tigers!
For more information on ways to help wild tigers visit:
- The Corbett Foundation (tiger wells)
- Bhutan Foundation (tiger collars, anti-poaching)
- David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (rangers)
- Freeland Foundation (anti-poaching, trade)
- Satpuda Landscape Tiger Programme (anti-snare)
- The Thin Green Line Foundation (rangers)
- Wildlife Trust of India (anti-snare)
- PRNCO Tiger Center in Russia