Threats to Habitat
One of the greatest threats to tigers is the destruction of natural
habitat. Human population growth, urbanization, and the globalization
of industry and trade are putting tiger habitat under pressure
and in competition with other land-use priorities. In increasing
numbers tigers are being driven from their domains, their hunting
patterns disturbed, their prey base depleted and their breeding
Threats by Poaching and Trade
has shown that hunting and the illegal poaching and sale of wild
tigers not only causes tremendous suffering for individual animals
but has pushed the species to the brink of extinction. Many hunted
tiger populations that once numbered in the thousands are now
critically endangered or extinct.
The reality today is that a skyrocketing demand for black-market
animal parts, which has spawned sophisticated global networks
of poachers, smugglers, and dealers, is making tiger protection
increasingly difficult and dangerous. The temptation of ever-increasing
profits, combined with a lack of enforcement and monitoring capability
in many nations, very often leads to cruel, wasteful, and indiscriminate
levels of killing.
Threats by Traditional Medicines
Traditional Medicine (TM) has a global impact on wildlife, people,
and the environment we share. The World Health Organization (WHO)
estimates that more than 4.8 billion people -- 80 percent of the
world's population -- use traditional medicines as their primary
form of health care.
The widespread and growing popularity of TM threatens the survival
of tigers, rhinoceroses, bears, seahorses and other endangered
species historically used in these traditional formulations.
In 1999, the global market in traditional medicines was estimated
to be a US$20 billion business. Europe spent approximately US$7
billion on herbal remedies in 1999; North America spent US$3.8
billion; and Asian nations spent US$5.1 billion.
Since then, the popularity of alternative medicine, as measured
by the utilization of natural products, has grown exponentially
throughout the world.
In addition, dramatic growth in E-commerce has augmented the availability
of traditional medicines by creating new and increasingly accessible
avenues of availability. The increased availability of TM products
that contain endangered animal parts and herbs has a sizeable
impact on tiger populations.
In 1998, the Year of the Tiger, the plight of the tiger captured
the world's attention. Through the telling of this tale of
a magnificent animal at risk, the tiger has come to symbolize
the threat of extinction. We cannot wait until the next Year of
the Tiger in 2010 to discover the disappearance of the tiger in
The imminent extinction of the tiger is particularly significant
because it is humans that pose the only threat to this species.
In the end, it will be humans who are responsible, knowingly
or not, for the fate of the tiger.
lesson of the tiger is relevant to all wildlife, because the health
and well being of all species depend upon the actions of humans.
Today, many other wild animals are threatened by commercial exploitation,
inhumane treatment, and habitat loss and degradation. These are
the same perils that have secured the tiger's fate in the history.
If the tiger is forgotten, many other species will not survive
for future generations. What will you do to help today?