Are Tigers Endangered?
Tigers have existed for millions of years, but what is the fate of their species?
An endangered species is one that is at a major risk of extinction. Unfortunately, tigers are currently categorized as endangered by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation) Red List. Even worse, of the nine subspecies of tiger, 3 are already extinct!
How did this happen? Let’s look at the major forces pushing tigers to extinction.
Poaching and the Illegal Wildlife Trade
By far the primary cause of tiger endangerment is the insidious illegal wildlife trade. Its harm to tigers is two-pronged. Poachers will kill tigers existing peacefully in their wild habitats to sell on the black market for their body parts (as novelty items or use in traditional medicine), or poachers will steal tigers (including baby tiger cubs) from the wild for use in the wildlife entertainment industry—think tiger selfies and circuses. When tiger cubs become too large, they are often sold back into the wildlife trade to be killed for their body parts. There are even tiger farms where tigers are bred and kept in terrible conditions, only to be killed for or sold into the cruel wildlife trade.
In all scenarios, tigers suffer immensely, and they are robbed of their chance at a natural and wild life.
Tigers once thrived across Asia, but now they’re found in the wild in only 13 countries. In the past century, 96% of tigers’ natural range has been lost due to logging and human settlement development. As humans increasingly steal tigers’ habitat space for their own, tigers are being killed by humans in a dynamic known as human-tiger conflict.
How You Can Help
Have a cat lover in your life? Educate them about the challenges tigers are facing, and then urge your legislators to support the Big Cat Public Safety Act. This act will help keep tigers in the wild where they belong and give them a chance to grow their population. And if you’re still itching to see a tiger, be sure to find an accredited sanctuary that prioritizes tigers’ safety and wellbeing.