I have been writing about tigers in a series of posts titled “The Disappearing Stripes in the Year of The Tiger. The previous 4 can be found at the following links:
Part I – The Disappearing Stripes
Part II – The Amur Tiger
Part III – The Bengal Tiger
Part IV – The Sumatran Tiger
We have already come to know the Amur,Bengal and Sumatran tigers in the previous posts. Now in the final edition of the series we will learn about the last 2 endangered tiger sub-species The Indo-Chinese Tiger and the South Central Chinese Tiger.
The Indo Chinese Tiger – Panthera tigris corbetti or the Indo Chinese tiger is found through out Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, malaysia and Southern China. Their numbers are believed to be around 300 in the wild according to the WWF and around 60 are captive in the zoos of US and Asia.
The Indo Chinese tiger is also commonly called the Malayan tiger. Males are much larger than females, and have more conspicuous cheek whiskers. Males are 8’5″-9’4″ long (excluding the tail) and weigh between 370-430 pounds. Females are 7’7″ – 8’8″ long and weigh under 300 pounds. Black stripes on a reddish-ochre ground, with white throat, facial patches and belly. Stripes are narrow. Body color is a little lighter than that of the Sumatran tiger, which is the darkest of the tigers, and the striping at the front of the body is reduced. In addition some stripes break up into a row of spots.
Most of the wild Indo Chinese tigers are in Thailand, while the other countries also have smaller populations. The Military regime in Myanmar has set aside what is the largest preserved area for tigers in the Hukaung Valley – a remote area of northern Myanmar about half the size of Switzerland – is now a protected tiger area. Due to restricted access to the border areas where the Indochinese tiger lives, relatively little is known about their population status.
Malaysia has been able to impose strict laws against poaching there by protecting the tigers which live there. Political and economic stability is one of the main aspects which could help the tiger survive. Where there is poverty the people tend to focus more on how to make a quick buck rather than what is happening to the tiger.
The South-Central China Tiger – Or the South China tiger Panthera tigris amoyensis is the most endangered of all 5 species and their numbers are estimated to be around a dozen in the wild at the most. No wild sighting of a South China Tiger has been made in the last 25 years. The South Central China Tiger population numbered around 4000 in the 1950’s and was officially hunted down to extinction as a pest! by 1996 the population was around 30 – 80 individuals approximately! A few individuals may remain in the moist forests of southeast China, but the wild population is not thought to be viable. It is called by many scientists to be functionally extinct.
The South China tiger is also considered to be a stem tiger – a species which is most closely related to the ancestors of the modern tigers.
Where is the Tiger headed?
There are numerous conservation efforts happening around the world to save the tiger. Today I read this study in The Public Library of Science – Biology journal online titled ” Bringing the Tiger Back from the Brink—The Six Percent Solution” The study has identified 42 source sites – sites which have 25 or more breeding females: there fore they can sustain or lead to a larger number tigers in years to come and sites also able to accommodate 50 breeding females. India had 18 sites, the Indonesian island of Sumatra eight and the Russian far east six, with others in Malaysia, Thailand, Laos and Bangladesh. Their list excludes China, Cambodia, DPR Korea and Vietnam; as the data did not support any source sites there.
The cost of achieving this would be an additional $35 million a year in funding for law enforcement and monitoring, the report’s lead authors from the U.S.-based Wildlife Conservation Society say. The World Bank, global conservation organization IUCN and Panthera, a big cat environmental group, also contributed to the study.
“The tiger is facing its last stand as a species,” John Robinson, executive vice president of conservation and science for the Wildlife Conservation Society, said in a statement. Of the tigers remaining in the wild, only about 1,000 are breeding females.
“Scientists and conservationists believe that tigers can make a comeback if the most critical threats to their existence, poaching of the cats themselves and their prey, are addressed effectively and immediately” Setting up preserves is only the first step, stopping poaching and poachers, Getting rid of the market for animal products, educating people about the relevance of bio-diversity for their own survival if nothing else etc may help in protecting the remaining tigers and make the doubling of tiger population in the wild by the Next year of the Tiger – 2022 a reality!
In November this year the 13 Tiger countries worldwide will get unite in St.Petersburg for the Tiger summit of 2010 – The Year of the Tiger and the UN’s year of Bio Diversity. The aim is to put in place a frame work to make sure the tiger survives and lives without fear of extinction by 2020.
The good thing is Tigers are cats – and so breed easily. Given adequate space, prey, and protection from poaching, wild tiger populations can increase. Lets hope it works out, for the tigers and for the future generations who will call the earth their home.
Sources and Relevant Reading :