What's Driving Tigers Toward Extinction? | National Geographic


the tiger the largest of the big cats is

also the most endangered the population

of wild tigers has declined more than

95% in the past century what's driving

Tigers toward extinction and can we save

them fewer than 4000 tigers remain in

the wild the current decline of tigers

is primarily driven by poaching to be

the demand for tiger parts in China

international trade and tigers was

banned at 1987 yet lack of enforcement

and a growing demand has only made the

situation worse sophisticated criminal

syndicates transport Tigers and their

parts across international borders these

gangs are part of a multi-billion dollar

illegal wildlife trade Tiger parts are

sold for use in traditional Chinese

medicine from the nose erroneously

believed to treat epilepsy to the tail

used to treat skin diseases and nearly

every body part in between has been used

to treat various other maladies these

purported natural remedies date back at

least a thousand years and it's not just

health but also wealth that's driving

the demand Tiger bone wine has become a

luxury good among China's growing elite

selling for up to hundreds of dollars a

bottle the product is made by steeping a

tiger's bones in rice wine some believed

drinking the resulting elixir will cause

them to gain the tiger strength to meet

growing demand for Tiger bone wine China

established its first tiger farm in


1886 a tiger farm is a facility that

breeds Tigers like livestock today there

are hundreds of tiger farms and other

captive facilities across China

Southeast Asia and South Africa many

which are suspected of being involved in

commercial trade these facilities house

as many as 8,000 tigers

that's roughly double the number in the

wild so why are wild tiger numbers still

declining most conservationists

aggrieved that Tiger farms simply drive

up demand for tiger parts also some

consumers believe medicine made from

wild Tigers to be more potent than that

from captive bred Tigers many Tiger

farms double as tourist attractions

tourists can take part in the latest

trend photos with Tigers and tiger cubs

but these encounters are far from

harmless to meet tourists demand for

Cubs Tigers on farms are speed bred

newborns are taken from their mothers

soon after birth so the females can more

quickly produce another litter in the

wild tiger cubs stay with their moms for

about two years

when farm tiger cubs grow up

they're slaughtered for their parts one

popular tourist attraction in Thailand

the tiger temple made headlines when an

investigation found it was essentially

operating as a tiger farm the temple

opened in 1999 claiming to be taking in

orphaned tigers it quickly ballooned

into a three million dollar a year

enterprise with busloads of tourists

paid to pet Tigers and bottle feed Cubs

in 2016

Thai authorities discovered that the

temple had been breeding Tigers without

a license all 137 of the temples Tigers

were seized during the raid authorities

also discovered tiger parts and 40 dead

tiger cubs the tiger temple incident may

have spurred the international community

to take more concrete steps to prevent

wild tigers from going extinct societies

the treaty that regulates international

wildlife trade now requires all

countries with Captain Asian big cats to

report on how they are ensuring the cats

and their parts don't enter the illegal

trade and it's not too late to save

Tigers beliefs in traditional medicine

are fading as the younger generation in

China moves toward more modern

evidence-based medicine also Tigers are

a resilient species females typically

give birth to six to eight Cubs in their

lifetime large areas of suitable tiger

habitat still remain and they have the

potential to support over 20,000 Tigers

experts agree that if demand for Tiger

parts can be curved and tires can be

protected in the wild Tigers may be able

to rebound for the latest news on Tiger

conservation and other wildlife issues

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