Tigers in Trou­ble

A World With­out Tigers?

The Washington Post Sunday - - THE MINI PAGE -

If you were go­ing to pick one of the most mag­nif­i­cent an­i­mals on Earth, what would you choose? The tiger would be many peo­ple’s top choice.

In fewer than 20 years, tigers could dis­ap­pear from the wild. In the last cen­tury, tigers have suf­fered a sharp drop in num­bers. To­day there are fewer than 3,200 tigers out­side zoos. One hun­dred years ago, there were about 100,000.

Sci­en­tists say there is still hope, but peo­ple need to act now.

The Mini Page talked with the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Pan­thera, a group work­ing to save the world’s big cats, to learn more about the en­dan­gered tiger.

Harm­ful hu­mans

Peo­ple are the rea­son tigers are threat­ened. Hu­mans have caused trou­ble for tigers in three ways: • killing of tigers, • over­hunt­ing of prey, • habi­tat loss or habi­tat breakup.

Killing tigers

Some­times peo­ple kill tigers be­cause they are afraid or be­cause the tigers are eat­ing farm an­i­mals.

But the biggest rea­son peo­ple kill tigers is to get their body parts to sell. Many peo­ple in Asia be­lieve eat­ing tiger parts will give them some of the tiger’s power. China is the largest mar­ket for tiger parts to­day.

Poach­ers (PO-chers), or peo­ple who hunt il­le­gally, kill tigers to make a profit.

Lack of food

Peo­ple eat the same foods tigers eat, such as deer and wild pigs, or boar. As peo­ple have spread into the tigers’ habi­tat, they have killed most of the tigers’ food for them­selves.

Then hun­gry tigers have eaten cows and other live­stock and scared peo­ple.

Habi­tat loss

Peo­ple have de­stroyed much of the tigers’ his­tor­i­cal habi­tat. They have cut down forests and con­structed build­ings within tiger habi­tat. Some­times peo­ple have moved into the mid­dle of tiger habi­tat, so the tigers can­not reach prey or other tigers to mate with.

This tiger roams in the Kazi­ranga Na­tional Park in In­dia. Tigers pre­fer to hunt be­tween sun­down and sun­rise. They might roam from 6 to 20 miles a night hunt­ing for prey to eat.

In the last 100 years, tigers have lost about 93 per­cent of their range, or area they oc­cupy. The lighter shaded ar­eas show the tigers’ range a cen­tury ago. The dark­ened ar­eas show the tigers’ range to­day. They now live in the wild in only 13 coun­tries in Asia.

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