The wild Tiger is an iconic symbol of conservation. Nine different subspecies of this carnivore are recognized, three of which became extinct in the latter part of the 20th century : the Bali , Javan and Caspian Tigers. The remaining subspecies are the Siberian, South China, Sumatran, Indochinese, Malayan and Bengal Tigers. Their characteristic dark, vertical stripes patterning the body vary in their width, spacing, and length, and whether they are single or double stripes. The pattern and distribution of the stripes is unique to each Tiger.
Poaching and habitat loss have occurred throughout much of the wild Tiger's range and is now severely threatening its survival; as land becomes rapidly developed to meet the increasing demands of the Asian population, tiger populations become isolated in remaining fragments of wilderness and will ultimately die out.
In 1973, the Indian government embarked on a Tiger conservation project. They established Project Tiger with the aim of conserving and increasing the country’s Tiger population. India has one of the best National Park systems anywhere and there are currently 21 Tiger reserves, although these are increasingly threatened by human pressures on the parks and its surrounding land. The key to the survival of the Tiger is the maintenance of large tracts of adjacent habitat, but protection of this species is complicated by its man-eater reputation and by the threat it poses to livestock. Increasing, there are human / tiger contact becasue villagers are entering Tiger habitat to collect firewood and do work for the National Parks. The involvement and commitment of local people will be vital for the future sustainability of the magnificent Tigers.
In 2010, a collective effort between 13 Tiger range countries made an unprecedented pledge to try and increase and double their Tiger population by the year 2022. To achieve this goal, each of the countries in which the Tiger remains will carry out actions to effectively preserve, manage, enhance and protect Tiger habitats, and to eradicate poaching, smuggling and illegal trade of Tigers. They also pledged to cooperate in transboundary landscape management and in stopping the illegal trade. The range countries also pledged to engage with indigenous and local communities to work towards the restoration of the Tiger to its former range. Only time will tell if this noble effort will bear fruit but the Tiger's survival in the wild in next few decades are not assured and the imminent threat of their extinction is too sad and horrible to comprehend.
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