The Decimation of The Tiger

The tiger is in trouble. Big trouble. World expert opinion estimates that there are less than five thousand left in the world. The good old human race has done it again. We've managed to almost decimate yet another magnificent species. Almost at the turn of the century there were estimated to be 100,000 of the eight sub-species of the tiger roaming the Asian subcontinent. Three of the species�the Caspian, Javan and Balinese�are said to be extinct. The Chinese Tiger is in deep trouble with only about 50 remaining in the wild whilst the Sumatran and Siberian are believed to have about 600 and 150 respectivly, roaming about and trying to keep their heads down. The Indian and Indo-Chinese species are faring a little better. Their populations are estimated to be around 3,000 and 1,000 respectively.

The British (bless 'em) led the van when it came to the Tigers' persecution. Shooting Tigers for sport was macho and the 'serious sportsman', bravely perched in safety atop his elephant and armed with a large gun, was hell- bent on scoring his personal century. But the British gentry can't take all the credit. Indian royalty did a pretty good assassination job as well. The Maharajah of Surguja slaughtered a life-time total of 1,150 of the beasts. Even the Queen's Prince Phillip joined in the fun in the name of sport and tried to gun down a few as well. Many more were only wounded and slunk away to die a slow death in agony.

Not surprisingly the Indian Tiger population took a rapid nosedive in 1969 from 40,000 to 2,500. These days, India's population has exploded by 300 million since the late seventies. The habitat of the tiger is now down to 14% of the country. Their forests have been felled for logging and cultivation. That doesn't leave much food or room for the tiger, so they become man-eaters and therefore get bad press, with bounty hunters out for their blood, body, organs, bones and skins.

In fact there is no part of a tiger that won't make a poacher rich. In many Eastern Countries, like China, Singapore, Taiwan and Korea a tiger carcass dismembered and processed into fur coats, magic potions and aphrodisiacs are worth around $200,000 each. As the Tiger becomes rarer so the price on its head increases on the futures market.
The death and dismembering of one animal can earn the average Siberian poacher six years' pay. Along with Thailand, Malaysia and Bangladesh�which are equally enthusiastic about hacking down their forests to make chopsticks and toothpicks�the tiger is rapidly running out of space.