The Henley Society’s April talk, held in Shiplake Memorial Hall, was given by Simon Clinton founder of Marlow based conservation organisation ‘Save Wild Tigers’.
In this, the Chinese year of the Tiger, it was alarming to discover that there are now less than 3,800 tigers living in the wild, a 96% reduction in the last 100 years, and sadly, if steps are not taken to halt the decline this iconic species will be pushed to the brink of extinction by the next Chinese Year of the Tiger in 2034.
The tiger is routinely returned as the world’s favourite animal in world-wide polls among all age groups and to think that in 12 years’ time the species could be history is unthinkable.
Simon graphically outlined the major threats to tigers – deforestation, loss of habitat, climate change and poaching driven by an illegal demand for tigers and tiger parts made worse by captive breeding facilities across Asia.
Only six species of tigers remain, the Caspian, Balinese and Javanese tigers having become extinct over the past 70 years.
The wild Tiger is an umbrella/apex species. It’s conservation automatically ensures the protection of many flora and fauna and entire ecosystems. Thus, a properly planned tiger conservation programme is actually a programme to protect and save a large number of species.
Simon said “Tigers in the wild are killed illegally to fuel the demand for tiger products – tiger meat, a status symbol delicacy, teeth and claws for trinkets, bone for tonic wine and medicine, and skins for home decoration. Now is the time to put tigers to the top of the agenda, to stop illegal poaching and to put an end to the tiger trade to ensure their survival.”