8 Oct 2012

Endangered Stripes

In Chinese mythology, the white tiger was appointed the guardian of the country’s west. Legend had it that if a tiger ever survived to its 500th birthday, its tail would turn white. Consequently, white tigers would only appear to emperors who ruled virtuously: they were the symbols of a peaceful reign.
But while tigers might be revered creatures in Chinese lore, the king of beasts now faces a tipping point in its existence. According to the Chinese zodiac, this is the Year of the Tiger. Scientists and wildlife advocates are hoping the year’s iconic importance will help in saving the world’s last remaining wild tigers.
The great cats have historically inspired everyone from poets to warriors. They now also symbolize vanishing environments that support both animals and humans. In India, there’s a saying that when the tiger disappears, the forests will fall.
According to the Save the Tiger Fund, wild tiger numbers have slid from 100,000 as recently as a century ago to as low as 3200 last year. The threat of extinction looms for the Siberian tiger, the world’s largest cat. A 2009 report by the Siberian Tiger Monitoring Programme, co-ordinate by the Wildlife Conservation Society in association with Russian government organizations among others, revealed that recent Siberian tiger numbers have plummeted by 41% from their 12-year average.
“That came as a big shock,” says Judy Mills, the co-coordinator for the International Tiger Coalition. She describes 2010 as “the most important year in the history of tigers”, and believes it will be absolutely critical for the tiger’s future.
“Tyger Tyger, burning bright”
National and international leaders agree with Mills. Late last year, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin unveiled a last ditch effort to save the Siberian tiger. He plans to host an international summit with the World Bank in Vladivostok this September, and has set the goal of doubling wild tiger numbers worldwide to 6500 by the year 2022.
Conservation organizations have planned a series of workshops leading up to Putin’s tiger summit in Vladivostok. But China’s decisions carry special weight that could either save or doom tigers.
Wildlife experts point back to 1993, which was when the Chinese government banned the trade in tiger parts used for traditional Chinese medicine. The move helped to curb consumer demand, which has consistently driven poachers to hunt down wild tigers.

7th Semester(I.T.)


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