Nowadays, tiger, the bigest of all cats, is one of the most threatened species on Earth. Tiger numbers are thought to have fallen by about 95% since the turn of the 20th century - down from around 100,000 to the present estimate of around 4,000. In the past century, the world has lost three of the nine tiger subspecies. The Bali, Caspian and Javan tigers have all become extinct and many scientists believe theSouth China tiger is almost extinct. Today, tigers are poisoned, shot, trapped and snared, and the majority of these animals are sought to meet the demands of a continuing illegal wildlife trade.
Hunters, traders, and poor local residents whose main means of subsistence comes from the forest, are wiping out the tiger and the natural prey upon which it depends. While poaching for trade continues to menace the tiger's survival, perhaps the greatest long-term threats are the loss of habitat and the depletion of the tiger's natural prey. Large commercial plantations have replaced a lot of tiger habitat in several tropical range countries.
In the 1940s the Amur tiger was on the brink of extinction, with no more than 40 tigers remaining in the wild. Thanks to vigorous anti-poaching and other conservation efforts by the Russians with support from many partners, including World Wide Fund for Nature, the Amur tiger population recovered and has remained stable throughout the last decade or so.
But poaching of the tiger and its prey, increased logging and construction of roads, forest fires and inadequate law enforcement are threats that affect the survival of the species. The most immediate of threats is the demand for tiger body parts to use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). This is an ancient practice, as tiger bones have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for at least 1,000 years. During the 1960s, tigers were killed in China as an agricultural pest and this kept the Traditional Chinese Medicine market supplied with tiger body parts until the 1980s. The World Wide Fund for Nature is working with local communities, governments and experts to provide a brighter future for tigers in the wild. So, why is this species important?
It’s common knowledge that the tiger is a powerful symbol of reverence among the variety of cultures that live across its range. They command respect, awe or fear from their human neighbours. Even in places where tigers have become extinct or never existed in the wild, they live in myth and legend. Audiofile.