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Conservation

Tiger Conservation is an Issue

by JW Dowey 27 May 2013
Tiger Conservation is an Issue

Tiger Image; Credit: © Shutterstock

With only 3,200 wild tigers left, the captive populations of their sub-species outnumber them. Why China in particular has so many captive animals is not hard to work out. International criminal networks manage large sums of money (around $50,000) for tiger parts and INTERPOL (in collaboration with CITES) have some influence in SE Asia, for example, to prevent this highly illegal trade in a critically endangered species (yes another one!). Nepal has its own NTGP for the tiger genome which has just begun a 2-year project to maintain their heavily-encroached tiger population.

Just like those in India, Nepalese tigers rarely get out much! They can't, in other words, meet for breeding without being endangered by human contacts. As opposed to Chinese lack of cooperation with international bodies, the Nepalis have a great history of conservation and respect for nature. This sponsored project should enable a true picture of tiger conservation in the Himalayan mountain country. Unfortunately, criminals will even penetrate there without strict surveillance.

The human encroachment problem for many species is probably best shown in Sumatra and other Indonesian islands. Bali and Java lost their last tigers in 1937 and 1975. The extremely rare Sumatran tiger, Panthera tigris sumatrae, is being pushed, along with the islands orang-utangs and elephants, to the extreme tip of reserves such as Batang Gadis by fire, poachers (employed by Chinese and other criminals) and multinational companies.

An Australian gold mining company has land bordering Batang Gadis with illegal logging encroaching from all other sides. We previously reported that only seven orang-utan populations can currently survive. Rhino, on the other hand are another Chinese menu item, causing the unique species, Dicerorhinus sumatrensis, to be reduced to 100 individuals, struggling in isolated pockets of forest (IUCN figures).

Batang Gadis is part of a conservation corridor in North Sumatra Province, leading to Gunung Leuser National Park further north. Kerinci Seblat now has more tigers in its central reserve, but all of course are suffering from these worrying problems of encroachment.

The solution to the loss of these animals, as well as multitudinous species of invertebrate, fish, amphibia and reptiles? More and more communication on these poachers and money-men who actually pay to kill animals, and of course on the conservation methodology desperately needed to maintain what we've got.

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