The tiger is my favorite animal. It just has an effect on me that no other animal has. Last year, I wrote about tigers and promised to write another one. I guess this is the perfect time to write another blog post about them because recently tigers have been burning bright again due to the hunt for tigress T1 or Avni, as she is being called in India. Avni is a mother of two young cubs and is being accused of being a man-eater. As I mentioned in my previous blog, humans don’t make up tigers’ diet. But tigers, just like humans, are protective of their homes and they don’t usually go out of their territories. This only means that if a human is eaten by a tiger, that human has wandered into or encroached a tiger’s territory.
The hunt for Avni reveals so much about the situation of tigers nowadays. There are actually more tigers in captivity than in the wild, which is not a good thing. Tigers in the wild, being an umbrella species, provide so many benefits to the natural ecosystem. Protecting tigers means protecting everything else in its habitat. There are several countries that have completely depleted their tiger population. Even the Philippines used to have tigers, as well as a host of other wildlife, but they have died out hundreds of years ago. But in a very recent history, nine sub-species of tigers three have gone extinct and the remaining six are critically endangered. Cambodia does not have tigers anymore, while Vietnam and Myanmar might follow Cambodia’s footsteps. With this in mind, tiger range countries have committed to double wild tiger populations by 2022. And India is at the forefront of this global initiative.
Tiger is the national animal of India, and one would think that there would be a level of reverence in how they are treated in the country. But sadly this is not true. India still has the biggest number of tigers in the wild, but only 2,226 of 3,890 as of 2016.It’s a long way off from a hundred thousand tigers hunted in India at the end of the 19th century till the early years of the 20th century. India is also seen as the possible source of tigers for countries with tiger reintroduction programs such as Cambodia.
Tigers are largely misunderstood, or conveniently so, to give way to “development”. Avni’s plight is of global significance, because if she is hunted and killed, her two cubs will die. They are only a few months old, and would not be able to hunt on their own until their are 18 months old and need to be with their mothers till three years old. What kind of message does this leave to the rest of the world? That wildlife could simply be dispensed with? Tigers have enough problems to deal with, such as illegal wildlife trade and poaching, forest clearing, human-tiger conflict, among many others. But we have to realize that their demise is ours too. If humans would like to live in this world longer, we have to protect our forests, and that means protecting tigers like Avni.
Please help. Help Avni and other tigers by signing and sharing this Big Cat Rescue Petition, making noise online using #LetAvniLive, joining protest actions, writing letters to governments, and supporting wildlife conservation initiatives. #SRC