(Image via http://voices.nationalgeographic.com)
Amazing news to uplift the new year: the population of wild Bengal tigers has increased 30% from 2001 to 2014; a census found 2,226 tigers in India last year compared with 1,706 in 2010. India is home to 70% of the world tiger population, so their numbers there spell out the future of the species. While this is being praised as a huge success, it’s important to remember that the future of all endangered species hinges on awareness.
In 1957 there were near 40,000 tigers in India, a far cry from the current population of 2,226. While conflicts with local villages and prey loss has not helped the species, their main threat for the past sixty years has been the illegal wildlife trade. From capturing and selling live tigers as status symbols, to the sale of skins and bones for furnishing or medicinal purposes, Bengal Tiger numbers have been dropping due to mankind’s interest in using them for one reason or another. Furthermore, as their numbers drop their body parts become more expensive and, unfortunately, poachers stand to profit more from the scarcity. This cycle must be stopped if we want Bengal Tigers to have a chance to bounce back to healthy numbers.
If you are interested in learning more or contributing to tiger conservation, look into WWF (World Wildlife Fund) and TRAFFIC (wildlife trade monitoring network), where you can find places to donate or lend a helping hand.