Happy Chinese New Year to all those who are celebrating it, but actual tigers face a sombre future. Extrapolations from the current rates of poachers killing wild tigers predict that there could well be zero tigers living in the wild by the next Chinese Year of the Tiger in 2022.
The Siberian Tiger in China is currently estimated to have fewer than 20 in the wild population, with perhaps another 30 of all other Chinese tiger species living in the most mountainous areas. 50 cats, at best. India has perhaps 1500 wild tigers. Sumatra has fewer than 400 in the wild. Meanwhile, tiger farms are springing up, especially in China, to supply the traditional medicine market which views tiger parts as a source of vitality and virility.
But the World Wildlife Fund, with support from the World Bank, has decided 2010 will be a make-or-break year for wild tigers.
They’re pushing 13 countries in which wild tigers reside to double the numbers of wild tigers by 2022.
The major threat to tigers apart from poaching is habitat loss, particularly due to forests being turned into tree plantations for paper and furniture production. Good luck to the WWF in its Year of the Tiger campaign.