Tigers at the Tiger Temple in Thailand spend most of their day changed to the ground. Source: Wikipedia via CC

Doing Your Part In Tiger Conservation

September 10, 2014

A century ago, tigers roamed the forests of China, India, and throughout Asia. However, human actions have pushed the wild tiger populations to the brink. Currently, WWF reports that there are only 3,200 tigers remaining the in wild, which is a 97% decrease compared to only a century ago. WWF predicts that if people do not take action, wild tigers may completely disappear by the year 2020.

Extensive industrialization and human population growth has displaced the tiger’s natural habitats by 93%, according to Save Tigers Now. In addition, Advocacy for Animals reports that poachers have been killing tigers to trade in the thriving illegal market throughout Asia that serves to satisfy the demands for tiger related medicine and luxury goods.

However, there are ways that you can help the tigers. When travelling to China, India, Thailand, and other surrounding Asian countries, be alert for products derived from tigers. In China, avoid purchasing traditional Chinese medicines and tiger bone wine, as these products are produced from the bones of tigers residing in tiger farms, according to a report by the EIA. Also, be wary of people trying to sell you tiger skins and bones.

It is also important to be aware of the zoos and animal parks that you visit in Asia. Although tiger parks are extremely popular tourist attractions throughout Asia, these places often treat tigers unethically. In Thailand, the Tiger Temple claims to be a conservation center for tigers, and attracts tourists from all around the world to pose for pictures with tigers. Although these pictures might seem cool to have posted up on your Facebook page, they are harmful to the tigers. Right Tourism reported that the tigers are often drugged so that they will be subdued when the photo is taken. A report by the Care for the Wild (CWI) organization further exposed the cruel truths of what goes on behind the camera at the Tiger Temple. The CWI campaign reported that the staff abuses the tigers at the Tiger Temple and the tigers live in poor conditions, which causes them to have health and psychological issues. Many of the tigers suffer from malnutrition, and have strange behavior such as “excessive chewing of the paws.” The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) reported that the tigers are often sprayed in the face with urine as a method of control, and are only allowed out of their cramped cages to take photos with visitors.

It is also possible to help the tigers by donating to reliable organizations that advocate for the protection of tigers. According to the Charity Navigator, the organization, Big Cat Rescue, donates 87.4% of their budget on programs and services to rescue and provide a permanent home for abused exotic cats. The World Wildlife Fund spends 73% of their budget on programs and services to conserve nature by protecting endangered species. The WWF runs a campaign with Leonardo DiCaprio, Save Tigers Now, which is also a reliable organization to donate money.

Before visiting tiger parks or zoos, please make sure to check out http://www.right-tourism.com, a website that provides information on how certain zoos and parks really treat their animals. Also visit the “Animal Friendly Tourism” page on the WSPA website to learn more about ethical tourism and animal welfare. Before visiting tiger parks and zoos, please keep this in mind: is a picture with a tiger really worth the pain and suffering they experience?

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