2010 is the year of the Tiger, according to the Chinese Zodiac Sign and many conservationists believe it might be the last 'Tiger year' when Tigers are actually present in the wild.
The situation is becoming worse everyday with 3 of the 8 sub-species of the tiger becoming extinct in the last century - the Balinese in 1937, the Caspian in the 1950’s and most recently the Javan in the 1980’s.
Of the remaining five – Bengal, Siberian, Sumatran, Indo-Chinese and South-China too the news is not good at all with only 25 remaining of the last named sub-species.
Why is the decline so severe? Because an undamaged tiger skin can fetch between £6000 and £8000 and that is more than double of the annual wage earned by a villager in India, Russia or China. This prominently Asian issue of Tiger poaching and exploitation also gets its fodder from the Chinese belief that certain ailments can be cured by using tiger parts.
The other issues are well known. Industrialization, deforestation, rise of urban population which are destroying habitat and thus hampering the growth and survival of the National Animal.
While China has recently tightened its animal laws and raised awareness on the issue, India is waking up to the fact through certain private companies’ partnering with WWF and other conservation agencies.
There are only 35,000 Tigers left in the wild - In the entire world. While people fear its ferocity and respect its regality, it is the tiger that is bowed down right now in front of the two-legged men, asking for his life to be spared.
If you really want to do something for these shy, regal animals, here are couple of sites that might help you get started,
Flickr photos by Esparta, Koshyk and Pavel Sigarteu