'T' is for Tiger (at least for now)
10:34 AM PT, Jan 4 2010
February 2010 is when the Chinese Year of the Tiger starts, but alarming news about the world's tiger population might mean that by 2022, the next time the Year of the Tiger rolls around, there might not be any left. ...
Due to deforestation and poaching, the tiger population has fallen more than 40% in the past decade, which translates to just 3,200 of them left in the wild, worldwide, mostly found in India. That's not a typo; there are but 3,200 wild tigers left, period. Can you imagine a world with no tigers in it? Unless drastic measures are taken, it will most likely take place during your lifespan. There are six subspecies of tiger: Bengal, Amur, Indo-Chinese, Sumatran, Malayan and South China, the latter of which is already functionally extinct, as there have been no sightings of it in the wild for more than 25 years now.
Much of the problem lies in the poachers of Nepal and the nearly insatiable desire for tiger parts in China, where things like "tiger glands" are supposed to have rejuvenating health qualities, although this is considered bunk by medical science. The World Wildlife Fund, the World Bank and other organizations are putting pressure on the Chinese to crack down on tiger poaching and to end the cruel "tiger farms," where the big cats are bred, then slaughtered for their skins and parts. The farmers claim the farms are helping increase the tiger population when, in fact, they are serving only to enlarge the market for illegal tiger poaching by increasing demand.
What's surprising is that the largest population of tigers in captivity is found in the United States, not Asia, where their population exceeds 5,000, with just 6% of them living in accredited zoos; the rest are in private hands with almost no government oversight.