The tiger captures our imagination and fascination and people travel thousands of miles to get a rare glimpse of the majestic animal. It is the biggest of the cat family and grows up to 3.5 meters. This regal animal is India’s National Animal, but still it has lost out in its fight with humanity.
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To prevent it from becoming totally extinct, concerted efforts are being made globally to help save this animal. The International Tiger Day is celebrated every year on 29th July. It’s also known as Global Tiger Day. The day’s goal is to promote a global system for the preservation of the tiger’s natural habitat and raise awareness about tiger conservation issues.
The wild tiger population has reduced from a 100,000 a hundred years ago in the wild to a mere 3,000. Three sub-species have become extinct. Tigers have lost 93% of the habitat due to expansion of cities. They are losing out in the fight for space between tigers and humans. They are being poached, regardless of how few of them are left and they face inbreeding issues.
The historical perspective
The International Tiger’s Day is being celebrated since 2010. The date 29 July was decided on after the St. Petersburg Tiger Summit with animal welfare organizations pledging their support. The tiger is on the IUCN Red List of threatened species as “endangered”. There are six subspecies of tigers found today – Bengal, Siberian, Sumatran, Malayan, Indochinese and the South China tiger. It is the national animal of Bangladesh, North Korea, South Korea and Malaysia, apart from India. Deforestation has played a major role in the tiger population dwindling. Poaching was banned in 1987 but has still not stopped. Infectious diseases, loss of prey, habitat fragmentation – all these have played a part in tiger populations plummeting. The International Tiger Day is an effort to save this precious animal.
How do they celebrate it?
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Many organizations hold several awareness programs on 29 July as part of the Tx2 effort – the commitment by the tiger range countries to double Tiger population by 2022. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) organizes several activities to spread awareness about the tiger in several conservation landscapes. Animal welfare activists, animal lovers, government officials
and children take part in a host of activities. In the Terai Arc Landscape (TAL), tiger conservation experts conduct workshops on tiger conservation. Seminars and educational workshops and competitions are held in Dudhwa Tiger Reserve and Satpuda Maikal Landscape. Sunderban Tiger Reserve and the Western Ghats Landscape organize events involving school and college students. The next generation has to be aware of conservation efforts of the tiger.
Special Programs held around the world or in a region
Many forests in Asia today are known as “empty forests” as the trees are there, but the animals are gone. The numbers of deer, wild pigs and wild cattle like Gaur are declining which means that tiger prey is decreasing. This results in tigers preying on domestic animals. Tiger range countries like Bhutan, China, India, Nepal and others, have community programs outlining the importance of maintaining the natural habitat of the tiger and tiger prey. In 2015, WWF China launched a deer reintroduction programs in Wangqing Nature Reserve in northeast China. This will help in recovering tiger prey density as, at this site, tracks of both the Amur tiger and the Amur leopard have been discovered frequently.
How people prepare for it
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The Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary celebrates International Tiger Day on the Saturday closest to July 29 every year. A fundraising event is held where children and adults participate in fun activities like a carnival and face painting are allowed to give treats to the tigers. The proceeds of the fundraiser go to the tiger sanctuary.
Everyone can play a part in saving the tiger, by donating, by fundraising or by raising awareness of the issue of tiger conservation. We need to restore the habitat of the tiger so that future generations are able to see the real tiger and not just listen to legends about it.