Since the year 1986, the International Union for Conservation ofNature and Natural Resources (IUCN) has been listing Pantheratigris (Tiger, the largest cat species) under the category ofendangered species (Harris et al., 26). Tigers are easilyrecognizable due to their black stripes on reddish-orange (brown) furand a white underside. The head’s structure is almost similar tothat of a female lion, but the conspicuous mixture of colors makes iteasy for one to distinguish between the two. Tiger has the mostvariable size in the category of big cats. The length of an adultmale tiger ranges from 8.2 – 3.2 ft. while that of female rangesfrom 6.6 – 9 ft. Their height ranges from 2.3 – 4 ft. at theshoulder. Tigers can move at a speed of approximately 30 – 40 mph.The weight of a male tiger ranges from 127 to 177 kilograms whilethat of a female one ranges from 100 to 118 kilograms. The mammal’sblack stripes facilitate proper blending with sunlight filteringthrough the treetops to the jungle’s floor. Tigers have a sharpsense of hearing (can hear sounds below the normal audible sound)which enables them to detect their prey over long distances in denseforest vegetation.
Tigers occupy various habitats including woodlands, tropical forests,evergreen forests, rocky country, mangrove swamps, and grasslands. Inspite of the basic variation, tigers occupy habitats with one commoncharacteristic where they can easily spot their prey and hide fromtheir predators (such as human beings) (Heise et al., 61).They are also spotted in shallow rivers and owed to their goodswimming capability. They can easily kill their prey when swimming.Tigers are more active during the night than during the day. Climaticconditions rarely influence a tiger’s choice of habitat. What seemsimportant is the availability of food and shelter in a particularhabitat. Tigers can live in regions with considerably hightemperatures as long as there is a forest (for shelter) and water toquench its insistent thirst.
Tigers get their food through continuous hunting efforts they spendmost of their lives hunting. It is a specialist, carnivore, andtop-end predator. An adult tiger cannot be hunted by any world animalfor food. The only threat is human beings who hunt them for theirfur. Tigers can eat anything that has meat including human beings.They protect their cubs and teach them how to hunt (for examplethrough swimming), what to hunt and what to keep an eye on. Whenhunting, tigers use their heavyweight to attack the prey (Reeve, 51).
Most tigers mate during the period between November and April eventhough it can happen at any other period but less frequently. Thesexual maturity age for females is three to four years while that ofthe males is four to five years. The gestation period ranges fromninety-three (93) to one hundred and twelve (112) with the averagebeing one hundred and five (105) days. After the period, the femaletiger gives birth to 2 – 3 cubs and sometimes as few as one or asmany as six. The weight of one cub ranges from 680 to 1400 grams. Itis also important to note that, unlike other animals in the catfamily, tigers give birth to blind and helpless cubs (Jewell &Sky, 39). Going by the fact that tigers are less social except duringthe mating period, it is expected that the females rear the cubsalone with the male playing no role. The female tiger parts with themale one as soon as former conceives. The male tiger can mate with asmany females as it wishes as long as it is healthy.
The traditional native region for Tigers was Asia in almost allcorners of this region (fossil remains indicate this). Over theyears, Asian regions known for tigers reduced to the region betweenCaucasus and the Caspian Sea and the islands of Indonesia. In the20th Century, it became evident that tigers were extinctin Western Asia. Scholars argue that this extinction can beattributed to the rampant loss of habitat and continued killing oftigers in the region. The situation has worsened in the 21stCentury since the remaining region extends from India to China andSoutheast Asia. The only region that is well inhabited by the Tigersis the Sumatra. At the beginning of the 20st Century,statistics provide that the total number of tigers in the world wasapproximately 100000. Currently, they range from 3062 to 3948 (Harriset al., 29). This drop is drastic and signals total extinctionif no measures are taken to curb the threats.
The life expectancy of tigers ranges from 23 to 26 years depending onthe type and habitat. As pointed out earlier, Tigers enjoy a solitarylife except when mating or when intending to mate. Their datingperiod is considerably long. It is the male tiger that begins toexpress dating desires to the female which, most of the time,responds positively. When the courting period commences, the couplespends much of their time together, and the relationship continuesuntil they agree to mate. The two mate until the female tigerconceives. It is only after conception that the couple part thefemale searches for a rearing yard while the male moves on to searchfor another female on heat (Heise et al., 62). Rarely does atiger have social interactions with other members of its community.It enjoys a solitary social life. Its interactions with othermembers, both of its species and community, are either related tomating (for the former) or eating (for the latter).
The animal is endangered because its total population is declining ata very high rate. As pointed out earlier, Tigers totaled up toapproximately 100000 at the beginning of the 20th century.Currently, the number ranges between 3062 and 3948 (Harris et al.,29). This is absurd. The main reason for the decline is loss orfragmentation of their habitats and poaching. The majority of theregions where tigers used to live, especially, in Asia have beenmodified to make them suitable for farming, logging, and grazing ofdomestic animals. Besides, the rapid growth of population (due toimproved nutrition and better health facilities) has compelled thesociety to convert some of the viable tiger habitats to homes forhuman beings. Currently, India is the home to the largest number oftigers in the world. The country could have hosted more tigers, butits rapidly increasing population cannot allow. The human populationin the country is said to have increased by approximately 50% between1973 and 1975. The population growth rate is even higher today.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the second reason for thedrastic decline of tigers is poaching. The main reasons for thisinclude perceived threat to human life and possessions such asdomestic animals (though in rare cases) and for monetary gain. Humanbeings who perceive them as a threat use various means to killincluding poisoned carcasses. The demand for tiger furs isconsiderably high, and poachers make a lot of money by selling them.The increased public awareness has, however, reduced this demand. Themain reason as to why tigers are poached the high demand for theirbones and other body parts. They are used to manufacture traditionalChinese medicine. One of the best ways to curb tiger poaching is bycreating global public awareness in an attempt to suppress the highdemand and consequently reduce the market for poachers (Jewell &Sky, 34). Governments should ensure that the tiger-human relationshipis enhanced so that the perception that one is a threat to the otheris minimized. This will ensure a harmonious coexistence between humanbeings and tigers.
To sum up, tigers are some of the most precious animals that areendangered. The drastic decline in their population over the lastcentury signals danger. All stakeholders should marshal their effortsto save the nearly extinct species. Moreover, governments shouldamend their legislations to provide room for the adequate punishmentof the poachers. This way, others can learn from them and avoid suchbehaviors (Reeve, 73). Educating the general public, particularlymembers who live in areas known to be the habitats of tigers, is alsoa major step towards curbing the species’ extinction. It is alsoimportant that the government, in collaboration with scientificgurus, develops strategies to ensure that tiger’s mating urge isincreased so that the current can bear more offsprings.
Harris, J. Berton C., et al. "Conserving imperiled species: acomparison of the IUCN Red List and US Endangered Species Act."Conservation Letters 5.1 (2012): 64-72.
Heise, Ursula K. Imagining extinction: The cultural meanings ofendangered species. University of Chicago Press, 2016.
Jewell, Zoe, and Sky Alibhai. "Identifying endangered speciesfrom footprints." The International Society for Optics andPhotonics (SPIE) Newsroom (2013).
Reeve, Rosalind. Policing international trade in endangeredspecies: the CITES treaty and compliance. Routledge, 2014.