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The worldwide tiger habitat has shrank dramatically over the last 100 years.  (Source: Curious Maps)

There are now estimated to be less than 3,200 tigers left in the wild. Researchers and conservationists estimate the species could go extinct in a couple decades without dramatic intervention.  (Source: Moss Project)
One of the world's largest and most iconic predators may soon go extinct in the wild

Amid all the fuss over global warming and alternative energy, the continued loss of biodiversity is being largely overlooked and forgotten.  And the trend may claim its highest profile victim to date in just a couple decades, say conservation groups.

For at least a million years tigers have roamed the forests and jungles of Asia, ruling the top of the food chain.  But today Tigers are facing a final bow from the world they once ruled as their habitats have been destroyed and their numbers slashed by poaching.  

At the start of the twentieth century there were an estimated 100,000 tigers, according to the World Wildlife Federation (WWF), an environmental advocacy firm that studies the unique species.  Over the course of the last century those numbers shrank and several subspecies -- the Bali, Javan, and Caspian Tigers -- went extinct.  

The WWF has released a new report estimating that there are now only 3,200 tigers left in the wild in India, Southeast Asia, Russia, and China.  They estimate that within a generation tigers will become extinct in the wild, if drastic action is not taken to conserve them.

Sybille Klenzendorf, director of the WWF-US species conservation program comments, "There is a real threat of losing this magnificent animal forever in our lifetime. This would be like losing the stars in the sky. Three tiger subspecies have gone extinct, and another, the South China tiger, has not been seen in the wild in 25 years."

World Bank, a multinational financial institution that provides loans to developing countries, is partnering with the WWF in a push to save the beasts.  

Keshav S. Varma, program director of the World Bank's Global Tiger Initiative comments, "Unless we really crack down on illegal trade and poachers, tigers in the wild have very little chance. If the tigers disappear, it is an indication of a comprehensive failure. It's not just about tigers. If you save the tiger, you are going to save other species. It provides an excellent indicator of commitment to biodiversity. If they survive, it shows we are doing our job right. If they disappear, it shows we are just talking."

Despite the fact that so few tigers remain, demand for their body parts is at an all time high on the Asian black markets.  Crawford Allan, director of TRAFFIC-North America, which monitors the trade in wildlife, comments, "The demand for bones and skin, meat, and even claws and teeth ... is driving a major crime campaign to wipe tigers out in the wild."

Lixin Huang, president of the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine has teamed with the WWF to try to fight Chinese natives from using tiger parts in their traditional remedies.  States Huang, "Traditional Chinese medicine does not need tiger bones to save lives.  What we are dealing with is an old tradition, an old belief that tiger wine can make their bones stronger. That is not medicine, that is from old tradition."

The WWF's ambitious goal is to try to get the tiger population doubled to 6,400 tigers in the wild by 2022.  To do that, they say they will need $13M USD a year and cooperation from the governments of Bangladesh, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Russia, the United States, Vietnam, and the Greater Mekong region, which stretches across Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

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RE: Saving tigers
By Griswold on 2/11/2010 4:49:04 PM , Rating: 1
And I dont trust your sanity.

RE: Saving tigers
By porkpie on 2/11/2010 5:42:47 PM , Rating: 2
Well, in the past month alone, the WWF was recently found to have been fabricating stories about Himalayan glacicers melting. Over the last decade, there's been countless cases of them inventing data to fit their agenda, so another instance here certainly should surprise no one.

On a side note, tiger attacks still account for quite a few deaths in nations like India.

RE: Saving tigers
By ClownPuncher on 2/11/2010 5:55:50 PM , Rating: 5
On a side note, tiger attacks still account for quite a few deaths in nations like India.

Don't hate on the tigers, Indian people taste like curry. Yum.

RE: Saving tigers
By uprm on 2/11/2010 8:12:11 PM , Rating: 2
The WWF screwed the pooch on their story, the bigger failure is no one checking their source since the report they based their comment on never came to the same conclusion. What's lost in all of this is the report still indicated that Himalayan glaciers are receding. India, and I believe China, have recently committed to studying the glaciers in more detail since in reality the issue is not well researched. Don't recall any other controversy involving WWF 'inventing data', but since they don't really perform scientific studies I don't really pay much attention to what they say.

RE: Saving tigers
By grenableu on 2/11/2010 9:51:59 PM , Rating: 2
From the story:
T he WWF's ambitious goal [is] to get $13M USD a year...
Everything else they say is just window dressing. I wouldn't mind a job getting a $500K a year to do nothing but write up a few phony press releases a year. Think the WWF needs a new president?

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