Human Threat and India's Bengal Tiger
The "trade in bones" is perhaps the most significant threat to India’s Bengal tiger. While it was previously thought that habitat loss was the primary reason for the species’ near endangerment, new information has come to light indicating that poaching is the primary cause of the populations’ decimation. Both the presence and actions of humans in the tiger's natural habitat may one day result in an India that has no remaining tigers in the wild.
Why are tigers being poached?
Aside from the attractive and expensive pelt of the tiger (which can cost upwards of $5,000), there are many reasons why this beautiful creature is still being hunted in this day and age. Despite being illegal, tiger pelts are sold to those who do not have respect for the animals or the ban on the international trade of tigers (enacted in 1987).
The bones, skin and other body parts of the tiger are used for traditional Eastern medicinal purposes. While the use of animals in Eastern medicine is not limited to tigers, the animal content of such remedies poses an ethical problem for individuals who might otherwise consider using these "natural" substances (namely vegetarians and vegans). Chinese medicine in particular contains a high percentage of tiger parts, which are believed to have health benefits ranging from cures for cancer and acne to reported increases in courage, productivity and mental alertness.
How are tigers poached and what can be done to stop it?
Most means of poaching tigers are decidedly cruel and inhumane. Not only is the animal put under great stress and often treated callously by its hunters, but the methods used are so cheap in comparison to the price fetched for a tiger, one might wonder why there aren't more poachers in existance in India.
There are many economic factors complicating the situation of poachers in India. Those who poach are often in an unstable position themselves, and for many, poaching is simply a logical way to make money.
While there have been dramatic efforts undertaken to curtail the poaching of these wild animals, many obstacles lie ahead for those who have the tigers' best interests in mind. For one, tigers are often poached by poor locals, who are themselves exploited by the traders. It may be argued that penalties and protective methods are not severe enough, however the governments of both China and India have made laws that are undoubtedly pro-tiger. Much of the problem lies in enforcing the existing legislation.
How can I save a tiger?
There are many groups designed to help India's Bengal tiger and keep stable populations in the wild where they can best be enjoyed by future generations. While difficulties remain in India, the country of Botswana may, in fact, be paving the way in tiger conservation and protection. Your voice can make a difference in the lives of these majestic animals- so get involved!
Take action - sign the petition here!
Check out this Filamentality Hotlist for all the links used in this CultureQuest!
Read up on our tiger friends and their history at the Black Pine Animal Park here