Tag Archives: Endangered

Disappearing Stripes in the Year of The Tiger V

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 IVThe 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 TigerOr 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.

Source Wikipedia

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!

Courtesy WWF

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.

TOGETHER WE CAN SAVE THE TIGER, AND THE TIME FOR IT IS NOW. MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD

Sources and Relevant Reading :

Bringing the Tiger back from The Brink – the 6% solution

Global Tiger Initiative

Save the Tiger Fund

Myanmar’s tiger preserve

WWF Tiger Initiative


A Highway Through The Serengeti: Will The Gnu Survive?

Africa the continent in the 21st century is associated with chaos, War, Atrocities against women and Children, hunger, poverty etc… Africa is also where the early human made their first appearance, where people lived in harmony with nature, where nature still remains natural in many pockets, where wildlife once thrived and many a hunter changed his view on hunting to become conservationists, where many a writer found his mojo, where the largest annual migration on earth still happens – The migrations of the Gnu (not the open source software but that which is its namesake – Commonly called the Wildebeest) antelopes etc… it is the land where every nature lover feels a connection to whether one has been there or not and feels drawn to. It is the one place on earth if given a chance I would love to visit – The Serengeti national park if only just to see the amazing Gnu migration, to hear the millions of hooves as they make the ground tremble, to see the stretch of antelopes as far as eye can see under the blue endless African skies.

Growing up one kind of romanticizes Africa and the endless skies with the abundant wildlife. I had only read about and imagined Africa until I saw it on the Large screen as a kid in The King Elephant which was later known as “the African Elephant” then “God’s Must be Crazy” etc.. to the Blood Diamond and others… My earlier films and the books I read made me fall in love with Africa, which has never wavered in spite of the state much of the continent is. As I grew older that one place where I really wanted to go visit has always been and probably will always be the Serengeti – Where the plains and the skies extend far beyond the eyes can see, where the Wildebeest, zebra, antelopes, elephants and giraffes co-existed with their predators lions, hyenas, cheetahs and leopards.

THE SERENGETI

Serengeti comes from the word Serenget which means “land that goes on forever or Endless plains”.

The Serengeti ecosystem is one of the oldest on earth. The essential features of climate, vegetation and fauna have barely changed in the past million years. Early man himself made an appearance in Olduvai Gorge about two million years ago. Some patterns of life, death, adaptation and migration are as old as the hills themselves.

More than a million Wildebeest traverse the plains of the Serengeti and the Masai mara(Kenya) along with 200,000 Zebras and gazelles following the rains. They are known to travel distances of 1300 miles a year! They move from the northern hills to the southern plains for the short rains every October and November, and then swirl west and north after the long rains in April, May and June. So strong is the ancient instinct to move that no drought, gorge or crocodile infested river can hold them back.

Development?

In the 1960’s the Tanzanian government tried to stop the Gnu from migrating into the Ngorongoro with barbed wire fence, the migrating herds trampled it to the ground as they made their way along routes engraved in their memories for who knows how many generations…

The Serengeti is a UNESCO world heritage site in Tanzania and now the Government of Tanzania plans to build a highway right in the middle of it! The Tanzanian government is moving forward with plans to build a public road through Serengeti National Park, despite conservationists’ concerns that commercial traffic will disrupt the annual wildebeest migration and allow poachers better access into the park.

If you have watched a video of the Wildebeest migration (scroll down if you have not) you will see how breathtaking and awe inspiring it is and just how easily startled they are by any intrusion (normally what we see are the predators creating the stress when they attack one of them en-route). Just imagine what many automobiles could do?

If you live in North America you can kind of understand the number of road kills we see every year as a result of deer being hit by cars on the road… it can be fatal for animal and human. This is when there are a few animals crossing our highways which have been around for decades now. Just imagine it being in the middle of the world’s largest migration every year! The standard procedure to protect wildlife is building of fences along the road sides… imagine having to leap over hurdles to continue their annual migration which is a part of their very being. However one weaves it we know roads are catastrophic for wildlife; we see that in our own backyards…  And to think the Tanzanian Government swears it will not be affected at all!!

The Politics of Promises with Power being the Ultimate Goal

The President of Tanzania came to power with the promise that he would build this road a 33 mile stretch which would connect Lake Victoria to the city of Arusha which is the tourist hot spot (base camp to Mount Kilimanjaro). What is interesting is the fact that a road through the park would “contravene the purpose of Tanzania’s accession to the World Heritage Convention,” according to the World Bank. The road would also “cause massive mortality of migratory species” and diminish the Serengeti’s value as a tourist attraction. The World Bank had in 1980’s rejected a similar proposal because of the negative ecological impact; I would think that should only have become more evident now than it was 3 decades ago.

There have been viability studies for the said road conducted by environmental groups which are independent (e.g. from Norway in 1997) which found it to be detrimental to the environment, and then the Government which stands by the road and the notion that it is “safe” did their own study in 2007 and came up with the response that “the effect on wildlife could be mitigated!” wonder how that will be accomplished when one really does not know how ecologically detrimental the road could be.

What is happening?

“Creating a commercial road through such a natural environment—where millions of wildebeest migrate annually—will be an intrusion in the natural habitat, so much so that the level of stress [among the animals] will be tremendous,” said Steven Kiruswa, the Maasai Steppe Heartland Director at the African Wildlife Foundation.

Poachers in Africa or any place where wild animals still survive and are protected in not news any more, But when Governments which are supposed to be protecting their own heritage turn a blind eye and cop up to vested interests dooming whatever is left protected, it makes me despondent. Why is it that there is still a market out there for animals and animal products? Why it is that man seems so unable to see what he is doing to what is left of the planet?

One thing is for sure like the Serengeti Park Management says “What we must face, all of us – poachers, tourists, farmers, conservationists and pastoralists – is the difficult truth that the land does not go on forever.”

Roads bring people and vehicles, development will encroach into the ecosystem of the Serengeti savannah. It will disrupt nature in ways we can’t imagine.

If you care PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION TO STOP THE ROAD SPLITTING THE SERENGETI

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Hoping that man’s greed and will-full ignorance does not make him blind enough to think that nature and its survival does not matter. Signing off with a quote from the from President of Tanzania Julius Nyerere who said “In accepting the trusteeship of our wildlife we solemnly declare that we will do everything in our power to make sure that our children’s grand-children will be able to enjoy this rich and precious inheritance.”

One reality that can’t be ignored is the fact that like every where else, unless the underlying issues are not taken care of these kind of band aids will appear more often than not. The only solution for environmental survival is not just education it is wiping out of poverty and the issues that come with it.

May be Tanzanians will remember Nyerere’s words, their tradition of conservation and act responsibly.

Possible Solution – A southern Route which won’t hamper the migratory path of the wildlife of the Plains that go on forever… May be the tour operators who bring in the tourists can make the Government listen and take action.

There are suggestions to build underground tunnels for the animals to migrate! This was done in places in India where elephants crossed over to their water sources when the government build rail tracks- problem they forgot to tell the elephants and there are still accidental deaths when an elephant is caught unaware on the track and meets its untimely death… Hopefully that is not where the Gnu and its ilk are headed.

Watch the Largest Migration in the World courtesy of National geographic :

Sources and Information:

National geographic

Stuart Pimm’s Blog Post

The Serengeti Website

Kristine Metzger’s Blog

Article in NYTimes by Olivia Judson

Relevant Videos and Books from Amazon:

Survival on the Serengeti

Africa: The Serengeti (IMAX) [Blu-ray]

Serengeti: Natural Order on the African Plain

Kingdom Of The Tiger In Decline

This is part III of the series Disappearing Stripes In The Year Of The Tiger III

Part II

Part I

Read on …

This week we will meet the Royal Bengal Tiger, Indigenous to the Indian Subcontinent and revered for its beauty and strength from time immemorial. The Royal Bengal tiger Panthera tigris tigris is the national Animal of India and has been immortalized in many a folk lore. The number of tigers in India (which incidentally has the highest number of tigers in the wild) has dropped drastically to 1300-1500 as of last count. Approximately 2100 Bengal tigers survive in the wild according to the World Wildlife Fund, the rest of them are 200 in Bangladesh, 150 in Nepal and 100 in Bhutan. Bhutan in the last month set aside the largest tiger preserve in the world in hopes of protecting this beautiful animal from extinction.

Growing up in India almost every kid read about Jim Corbett and his “Maneaters of Kumaon”. I remember reading the book when I was in 3rd grade and being haunted by images of a tiger stalking me for many many nights 🙂 The book has many stories about how Corbett hunted down tigers which had turned man eaters in the foot hills of the Himalaya’s. The book in itself is enthralling, he keeps the reader enamored by his narratives which are vivid and very descriptive of the fauna, flora and life in the villages he was protecting. It takes one back with him while he hunts down the Tiger, for a kid reading one her first big books it was as close to a safari as possible. Corbett was also a naturalist and keeping this in mind the Indian Government named the first one of the nation’s national parks after him. The Corbett National park in the foothills of the Himalaya’s is home to the Bengal tiger, the Asian elephant and many species of birds and animals.

Growing older my interest in the Tiger grew with me and I would read up anything and everything available. It’s then that I realized that in spite of its fearsome reputation Tigers tend to avoid human interaction at all costs. They are solitary except in the mating season and of course mom and cubs who stay together for 2-3 years.

By the way, I have always loved the tiger more than the lion and have often thought that if Africa had tigers, may be Tiger would have been king 😀

Bengal Tigers historical range is from the alpine Himalayas to the rain forests of southern Western Ghats and from the dry forests of Rajasthan to the moist forests of north-east India. India has many tiger preserves all across the country but poaching has been getting increasingly prevalent leading to the drastic drop in tiger population. Sariska Tiger Preserve lost all 26 of its tigers to poaching and all that is left is a deafening silence with no answers or arrests made…

On the 18th of May of 2010 Jhurjhura Tigress of Bandhavgarh one of India’s premier tiger preserves, was killed by the very men who are paid and supposed to be the caretakers. Some local politician and a group of pals descended on the preserve in the night after hours for a joy ride and the forest guards who are there to keep people from venturing into the preserve at night decided to take the “tourists” in for a joy ride. The driver of the jeep somehow managed to not see the Tigress who was found the next morning succumbing to her injuries. In death she left behind her litter of 3 cubs. One of them was tragically killed on the 10th of August 2010 by another tiger which entered the enclosure where the 3 cubs were kept supposedly safe by the wildlife officials… Read the news report here

The Bengal tiger’s coat is reddish orange with narrow black, gray or brown stripes, generally in a vertical direction. The underside is creamy or white; a rare variant has a chalky white coat with darker stripes and icy blue eyes. The stripes on a tiger are like fingerprints each distinct from the other.

The number of wild Tigers in India dropped starting in the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, thanks to the British and Indian royalty alike going out on elephants with huge hunting parties to hunt them for “Sport”.  Like with other animals and people, fire arms changed the dynamic totally against the powerful Tiger.

Sad

The size of tiger territories varies greatly by locality, season and prey density (the amount of prey in a given area). In areas with high prey densities, tiger territories tend to be smaller in size because ample prey may be found in smaller vicinity. For male tigers in Ranthambhore India; the prey concentrations are high and male tigers have territories that range in size from 5 to 150 km2 (2 to 60 mi2). In Siberia the prey concentrations are much lower and male tiger territories range in size from 800 to 1200 km2 (320 to 480 mi2). Seasonality in terms of prey migrations, food availability and weather may also affect prey populations and therefore the size of tiger territories.

There are many sites which have asked for people to join in (links at the bottom of the page) and demand action from the Government of India for the death of the Jhurjhura tigress, which has like always been quiet about the incident and probably hoping it too will go away like the Sariska tigers that vanished into thin air. It is unbelievable the callousness of people in power who can do something to stop this magnificent creature from going extinct in our lifetime, paying lip service as always seems to be the preferred course of action with no real action taken. It will be a pity is this beautiful earthling ceases to exist in the wild and gets relegated to the zoos…

Fun Footnotes:

  • Bengal tigers were considered as second in size to their Siberian cousins; recent studies have suggested Bengals on average could be larger than all other tiger species.
  • A tiger’s roar can be heard as far as 2 mi (3 km) away.
  • An integral component of the Tigers diet are large-bodied prey weighing about 20 kg (45 lb) or larger.
  • Tigers use their distinctive coats as camouflage (no two have exactly the same stripes).
  • Tigers attack humans and livestock only once they are unable to hunt for prey in the forest (due to old age or ill health).
  • Tigers are hunted as trophies, and also for body parts that are used in traditional Chinese medicine.
  • Since tigers hunt mostly at dusk and dawn their stripes help them hide in the shadows of tall grasses. They stalk and pounce because they are not able to chase prey a long distance.
  • The territorial male tiger usually travels alone, marking his boundaries with urine, droppings, and scratch marks to warn off trespassers.
  • Bengal tigers which live in the Sundarban delta have survived on salt water forever, scientists are awed by how nature has adapted them to live without fresh water.
  • White tigers are Bengal tigers that have pigmented stripes and blue eyes, they are not albinos.
  • The first white tiger was wild, but the ones we see in captivity are mostly inbred which makes them weaker as generations go. We have to put a stop to this inbreeding for the sake of the species survival.
  • Tigers may drag their prey to water to eat. They are commonly seen in the shade or wading in pools to cool off.
  • A tiger can consume 88pounds of meat in one feeding!
  • Human population increases lead to habitat conflicts with the Tiger, as man encroaches on to its remaining home the tiger sometimes is left with no choice but to come after the encroacher.
  • According to the Guinness Book of Records, the heaviest tiger known was a huge male hunted in 1967, measuring 322 cm in total length between pegs (338 cm over curves) and weighing 388.7 kg (857 lb). This specimen was hunted in northern India by David Hasinger and is actually on exhibition in the Smithsonian Institution, in the Mammals Hall.
  • The Tiger’s lone predator is the Human.

Tigers, as with all Apex or top-of-the-food-chain predators help balance populations by keeping prey populations in check. When a tiger has eaten its fill, the abandoned prey becomes food for a variety of mammals, birds, and reptiles. Some cultures believe that powdered tiger bones have medicinal values. Unfortunately, tigers are in high demand to supply this market.

Unless the authorities take charge and hold poachers and dealers’ responsible deteriorating numbers and extinction in the wild during our generation will be the only reality for the Tiger… I hope we will take action and protect this amazing, beautiful cat for the generations to come.

Indian tiger territory map.

What are the respective Governments promising to do?

Government of India’s Conservation project is called “Project Tiger” and in its 2010 issue of “STRIPES” magazine included a statement which read as follows:

Tiger conservation is important to protect biodiversity and to preserve a vital part of our natural heritage for the benefit of communities dependent on nature and for our children and their children. This crisis of extinction has to be averted. Therefore, We, the conservation leaders of sovereign tiger range countries (TRCs), reaffirm our commitments to the implementation of national tiger conservation efforts. We also reaffirm our commitments to the related international agreements and conventions, including, inter alia, CBD and CITES.

  1. 1. The Manifesto on Combating Wildlife Crime in Asia, adopted in Pattaya, Thailand, in April 2009.
  2. The Recommendations of the Global Tiger Workshop in Kathmandu, October 2009. And we commit to a shared goal of reversing the declining trend in tiger numbers. We strive to increase the occupancy and numbers of the remaining wild tigers within each country, and jointly strive to double these globally by the year 2022.

If this works it would be best news for Tigers by the next “Year of the Tiger” i.e. 2022… Keeping fingers crossed and supporting the oraganizations which work on the ground pushing for more action to protect these magnificent big cats, the King of India’s Jungles!

PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO SIGN THE PETITION on the right side- JUSTICE FOR JHURJHURRA TIGRESS SO THAT SHE & HER CUB WOULD NOT HAVE DIED IN VAIN…


List of Organizations which are working hard to make sure the Tiger Survives:

Belinda Wright’s Wildlife Protection Society of India

The Global Tiger Initiative

National Geographic Big cat initiative

Indian Governments Tiger conservation Website

World Wide Fund for nature

THUMBNAIL source by Creative Commons attribution Claodio Gennari

 

Source for Tiger Info:

STRIPES magazine Jan-Feb 2010 Issue

Michael J Vickers website with info and pictures on India’s Tigers

Jhurjhura tigress a month before her death a blog

Busch gardens website

National Geographic

An interesting blog

Closing of a Chinese Zoo

Interesting Tiger movies :

The two brothers – Well made film check out the trailer here

Check out Corbett’s Books :

Man-Eaters of Kumaon (Oxford India Paperbacks)

The Temple Tiger and More Man-Eaters of Kumaon (Oxford India Paperbacks)

 

 

 

 

 

The Disappearing Stripes In the Year of The Tiger

2010 according to the Chinese Lunar calendar is the “Year of the Tiger” , The Tiger is the third sign in the Chinese Zodiac cycle, and it is a sign of bravery. Yet the Tiger population in the wild is steadily declining… China is one of the major consumers of Tiger parts from bone to skin. Illegal poaching and logging is threatening to wipe out this magnificent being from the wilderness.

Mahatma Gandhi said “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” by those standards I wonder how many nations could be considered as making progress, I believe most of us are regressing to levels unknown… Why is it that we human’s consider the suffering of animals as lesser than that of a fellow human? Is it because they don’t speak out language? Don’t they bleed when cut and don’t they cry when hurt… wonder when humanity will open its eyes to the reality that animals like humans  have a place on this earth all their own and they have a right to be here as much as we do.

This week in meet an earthling I thought we will look at one of my favorite cats – The Tiger Panthera tigris. Tigers were found all across Asia from Eastern Turkey to the Caspian Sea south of the Tibetan Plateau, Eastward to Manchuria and the Sea of Okhotsk, in Northern Iran, Indus valley of Pakistan, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and the  islands of Java and Bali. Now they are pretty much restricted to some parts of India, North eastern China, Korea, Indonesia, parts of Russian Siberia and the foothills of the Himalayas.

Tiger distribution map Courtesy wikipedia

There are eight recognized species of the Panthera tigris of which 3 are already extinct. The eight are as follows (the ones striked off are extinct and the ones in red are endangered.)

  1. Panthera tigris altaica – The Amur Tiger (earlier called the Siberian Tiger) EXTREMELY ENDANGERED 300 in the wild
  2. Panthers tigris tigris – Bengal Tiger ENDANGERED 1800 in the wild
  3. Panthera tigris corbetti – Indo-Chinese tiger CRITICALLY ENDANGERED
  4. Panthera tigris amoyensis – South-central Chinese Tiger CRITICALLY ENDANGERED
  5. Panthera tigris sumatrae – Sumatran Tiger CRITICALLY ENDANGERED
  6. Panthera tigris balica – Bali Tiger
  7. Panthera tigris sondaica – Javan Tiger
  8. Panthera tigris virgata – Trans Caucasus Tiger

Tigers are one of the 4 big cats of the family Panthera. They are one of the most exquisite cats around and one of the most identifiable. In the zoos they are a favorite with most of the visitors and yet in spite of all this attention their numbers in the wild have been dwindling drastically. Human encroachment on habitats and the use of tiger parts in ancient traditional medicine are the main reasons for their numbers dwindling in the wild.

Tigers are big cats, the length varies between 6’8″ (Sumatran) to 9′ plus (Siberian) and weigh between 170lbs (Sumatran) to 700 lbs (Amur).

Tigers have a reddish-orange coat with vertical black stripes along the flanks and shoulders that vary in size, length, and spacing. Some subspecies have paler fur and some are almost fully white with either black or dark brown stripes along the flanks and shoulders. The underside of the limbs and belly, chest, throat, and muzzle are white or light. White is found above the eyes and extends to the cheeks. A white spot is present on the back of each ear. The dark lines about the eyes tend to be symmetrical, but the marks on each side of the face are often asymmetrical. The tail is reddish-orange and ringed with several dark bands.

Tiger habitats include sufficient cover, proximity to water, and an abundance of prey sources. Bengal Tigers live in many types of forests, including wet; evergreen; the semi-evergreen of Assam and eastern Bengal; the mangrove forest of the Ganges Delta; the deciduous forest of Nepal, and the thorn forests of the Western Ghats. The tiger prefers denser vegetation, for which its camouflage coloring is ideally suited, and where a single predator is not at a disadvantage.

Fun facts:

  • Tigers are a Keystone species and are Apex Predators – i.e. they have no natural predators other than humans.
  • Tigers are the only big cats other than Jaguars which like to swim. It spends a lot of time in water when the temperature gets too warm and will also follow a prey into the water or carry dead prey across lakes.
  • Tigers can swim up to 4 miles!
  • Tigers are mostly solitary unless they are females with their litter.
  • The pattern of stripes is unique to each tiger, and thus could potentially be used to identify individuals like we use finger prints to identify people.
  • They are the heaviest cats in the wild with some Amur Tigers reaching a whopping 700pounds!
  • Retinal adaptation that reflects light back to the retina makes the night vision of tigers six times better than that of humans.
  • Bengal Tigers have the longest incisors  of any living cat; 3-4″ in length!!
  • Tigers are solitary and do not associate with mates except for mating.
  • Mothers and cubs stay together until the cubs are 2-3 years old i.e. ready to hunt and take care of themselves.
  • Longevity 8-10 years in the wild.
  • A Tiger roar (chuff) can be heard up to 2 miles away.
  • Around early 1900’s the number of Bengal tigers in India was approximated to be around 50,000; by 1972 it had dropped to 1800! through diligent efforts to conserve their habitat and protect the remaining tigers the numbers have climbed back to around 4000 by 2004… Even now there is poaching in the protected areas which is going un-punished and un-accounted which has resulted in the latest census of tigers at 1300-1500 tigers. . One example is the Jhurjhura tigress who had 3 cubs, was living in Bandhavgarh in India, a protected and well know Tiger Preserve and was mowed down by Government vehicles in the night check out this link and make yourself heard if you care.


If we do not take a stand this magnificent animal will become extinct in our life time… I shudder just thinking about, I believe we owe it to the coming generations that we work together to clean up our messes and leave the earth as intact as possible with all the species diversity it possesses. I can’t understand how human’s think it is alright to use an animals skin… to me it is unthinkable using another living beings skin as a cover as I believe the animal has the skin to protect itself same like us.

Live Green, live aware… Help the organizations which work on our behalf to save these magnificent animals that I believe is the least we can do…

Something Hopeful to end today’s post with; The Global Tiger Initiative which will be meeting in St.Petersburg Russia from September 14th through September 18th.

The Website states their goal as ” We aspire to a world where, by 2020, wild tigers across Asia will no longer face the risk of extinction – and will live in healthy populations within high conservation value landscapes that are managed sustainably for present and future generations.”

So may be stronger measures will be taken and we will end up protecting the tiger…

Image Credits @ spisharam

A Foot Note – I will write about each species of Tiger in detail starting next week.

“The Black Rhino” Not Really Black

“What do a Rhino, a child suffering from a fever in China and a rich man in Yemen have in common? “

To find the answer you will have to either learn about the Black Rhinoceros (meaning read my blog) or scroll all the way down 🙂

Well now you know our weekly earthling for this week is a Rhino! When I heard the Rhino we have at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) I wondered why it did not look Black to me! Then I learned Black was not the color of the rhino but was given to distinguish it from the “White” rhino which incidentally is not white (Funny Humans!!) but was derived from the Dutch word for “wide”! So Black and White Rhinos really can’t be distinguished by the color of their skin (as both look pretty much Grey!!) but by the upper lip; it is prehensile and pointed in the Black Rhino while it is wide in the white rhino.

The Black Rhino is a critically endangered species as a result of Poaching and habitat fragmentation. Relentless hunting of the species and clearances of land for settlement and agriculture resulted in the population being reduced from a probable several hundred thousand at the start of the century, to less than 2,500 by the early 1990s (the minimum population estimate in 1995 was approximately 2,410 (Emslie and Brooks 1999). Historically they were found all over Africa; South of the Sahara except the Congo Basin, from grass lands to deserts, tropical and subtropical. Now their range has been fragmented to Cameroon Kenya and South Africa.

Black Rhinos are herbivores and are solitary except during mating season, with a gestation period of 15 months and the female giving birth to a solitary calf. Offspring are weaned after 18months and are dependent on the mother for up to 4years! They generally stay within 25kilometers from a water source. Dominant males are extremely territorial and will fight any intruder. They are more active during the mornings and evenings and rest during mid day when it is really hot.

Lifespan is between 30-35 years in the wild and they live to be above 45 in captivity. They weigh between 1750 to 3000 pounds! They have 2 horns with the front one being longer. The Rhino skin is 1.5 to 2 centimeters thick and wallowing in mud helps protect them from insects and the sun!

Some Interesting Rhino facts:

  • Rhinos inhabited not just Africa and Asia but Europe and North America as well! No one knows why they disappeared from North America.
  • At present there are 5 species of Rhinos in the world; The Black, White, Indian, Javan and Sumatran.
  • All together they number around 24,000 in the wild with 1200 in captivity.
  • Throughout the 20th Century the Black Rhino was the most numerous of the world’s rhino species!
  • Their Numbers in the wild dropped by a whopping 90% in around 40 plus years!!
  • The Javan Rhinoceros is the most endangered large mammal species in the world!
  • The oldest Rhino in captivity was 49 years old.
  • Adult black rhinos defecate on dung piles as a means of communication, as it reveals to other rhinos how recently an individual was in a certain location.
  • Rhinos have poor eye sight (see up to 25-30 meters away) and rely on their sense of smell most.
  • Male rhinos do fight over territories and use their anterior horns in the fight very effectively.
  • Two countries have shown net increases in numbers of Black Rhino over the period 1980-2007: South Africa and Namibia, from estimated 630+300 in 1980 (Emslie and Brooks 1999) to 1,470 + 1,390, respectively in 2007 (AfRSG data 2008).
  • Rhino horn has two main consumers: traditional use in Chinese medicine, and ornamental use (for example, rhino horn is a highly prized material for making ornately carved handles for ceremonial daggers (Jambiyas) worn in some Middle East countries mostly Yemen).
  • About 90 percent of adult rhino deaths are caused by poaching.
  • Like the elephant, the rhino walks on its tip toes. The round heels of its feet are actually fatty tissue.
  • A rhino can run 25 to 30 mph for short distances.
  • In their native countries they are threatened because their horns are worth more than gold to the poachers.
  • The rhino’s horn is made of keratin the same stuff that makes up our hair and fingernails.
  • The black and white rhinoceros remain so closely related that they can still mate and successfully produce offspring.

What can be done to make sure that this beautiful species stays where it has for millions of years? We can support the organizations which are doing the needful to negate the issues plaguing these animals like The international Rhino Foundation or the IUCN OR you could go shopping follow this link to know how?

Another thing one can do is educating people to why some of the traditional believes are just not true and how there can be alternatives for those ways. May be sooner rather than later, people will awake to the plight of their fellow earthlings; who I believe have an equal right to live on this planet as we do.

Live Green!

An Indian Rhino who lost its horns to poachers.. what a shame… 

 

Sources:

The IUCN Red Data List For the map and info

The Wikipedia for the awesome Picture

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium my favorite zoo 🙂

The Rhino Resource Center

Answer to the Riddle : Must be evident by now if not here it goes

They all think that the horn of the rhino is very valuable. To the rhino, it is very valuable because it uses its horn to defend itself and to fight other males when looking for a mate. Its sharp horn is a pretty dangerous weapon, and, if it breaks off, it will grow back. For the Child in China it could be part of a traditional medicine for fever( horn proven not to be medicinal) and the man in Yemen thinks the Rhino’s horn adds to his status on the handle of his dagger (Jambiya).”