September 28, 2010

Tiger Tuesday: Last Tiger Strongholds Identified

Scientists have tallied up a group of the last remaining 'strongholds' of wild tigers, 42 areas across Asia, where the breeding females of the extremely rare big cats live. They estimate that around 1000 breeding females of various tiger sub-species inhabit these areas, which are the last hope for wild tigers' survival.

                              
  The last Bali Tiger was recorded in 1937

Of the former 580,000 square miles (1.5 million sq kilometers) of habitat suitable for tigers, wild tigers now remain in only 7%. The 'strongholds' encompass only half of one percent of tiger's former range. As readers of this blog know, habitat loss, and especially poaching for illegal wildlife trade and "traditional" medicines are behind this terrible decline.


The Caspian Tiger became extinct in the late 1950's

These 42 newly identified sites hold 70% of the worlds remaining tigers, which number less than 3,500 in total.

Joe Walston, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Asia program says, "In the past, overly ambitious and complicated conservation efforts have failed to do the basics - prevent the hunting of tigers and their prey. [...] Efforts need to focus on securing these sites as the number one priority for the species."

So, at least for our tiger friends, 42 really is the answer to the ultimate question of Life, the Universe, and Everything...

Our source at LiveScience.com concludes with this practical summation:

The scientists calculated the total required annual cost of effectively managing these strongholds at $82 million, which included the cost of law enforcement, wildlife monitoring, getting the community involved in their protection and other factors. Although that might seem a large price tag, $47 million of that is already provided by the governments of the areas where the sites are located, supplemented by international support, the researchers said. The $35 million shortfall is needed to intensify proven methods of protection and monitoring.
"$35 million is less than what [New York Yankees baseball player] Alex Rodriguez made last year in salary and endorsements," Robinson told Our Amazing Planet. "There's quite a bit of money floating into protected areas at this time - the shortfall is not huge." Robinson noted he was recently in talks in Washington, D.C., with representatives of some multilateral government agencies to talk about this funding for tigers.

Well, tigers get my endorsement. What about yours? If so, please be sure to let your friends and family know about the danger of extinction that faces the world's wild tigers today.

 The Javan Tiger became extinct in the 1980's. Let's not add to this list.

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