This is Where you can Ethically See and How you Can help Tigers
So the tiger is a beautiful cat. It is so beautiful in fact, that travellers yearn for photos with them, to touch them, to see them, and in some cases, to bring home a piece of them. (Yes, they are being killed for their fur, their organs, and for hunters’ satisfaction – terrible I know.). But honestly humans – tigers were not put on this earth to satisfy our neurotic need to capture that ultimate selfie as they roar unnaturally for the camera. They are here to share the earth with us in their own natural way. So why not capture them through your photo lens in their natural surroundings from afar without affecting their environment? Wildlife in their natural habitats, enjoying routine habits and behaviours are a beautiful subject for reports, research, photographs, and bucket list ticks. Here is our guide to the tiger breeds of the world, where they live geographically, ethical viewings, and most importantly, How you Can help Tigers survive in their present vulnerable environment, improve their quality of life, and how to fix their current endangerment status caused by us selfish and ignorant humans.
Tiger Species and Where they Live
This gorgeous tiger species is one of the more prevalent in the wild with nearly 2300 roaming the lands of India. A smaller breed of this majestic cat, the Bengal tiger is a big tourism draw to this region of Asia and does bring in quite a bit of revenue.
- The Bengal Tiger can be found in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan
- It is the National Animal of both India and Bangladesh
- It’s stomach and legs are usually a whiter colour
- A fully grown Bengal tiger weighs nearly 800 pounds!
- Their favourite food is the gaur (a type of deer), but have been known to eat water buffalo as well
This tiger species is one of the largest. As its name suggests, the Siberian Tiger hails from Russia in the Siberia region, and at one point, roamed freely in Korea, China, and Mongolia. Sadly, sightings of this gorgeous giant cat has ceased in Korea, China, and Mongolia with regional extinction.
- These guys weigh approximately 700 pounds
- These guys have travelled up to 1000 km throughout the wild
- Mating can happen at anytime. There is no specific season for them to procreate.
- Once again, heavy poaching is the main cause of their endangerment and low population.
The smallest tiger, this beautiful cat lives on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Sadly it is critically endangered with several zoos assisting with conservation efforts to increase their wild numbers. It is the last species of tiger in Indonesia to survive as the Javan and Bali tiger species are now extinct. (SAD FACE.)
- Nearly 400 species are left in the wild.
- One of the biggest threats to them is habitat loss in favour of palm oil plantations. You know, that same reason orangutans are close to extinction? Selfish human urbanization at its finest…
- Indonesia is trying to help preserve the Sumatran tiger with measures as banning hunting.
- The Australia Zoo and the Indonesian Forestry industry partnered to help the Sumatran tigers.
- Other threats to the Sumatran Tiger include poaching, and illegal trade for their bones.
Thanks to humans and their urban developments, medicinal projects, and need to poach and hunt, there are several tiger species now extinct. That word just makes me so angry and it is sad whenever it is used.
Three tiger species that no longer grace our earth include:
- Considered Extinct since the 1970s
- The Caspian tiger lived in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and through Central Asia.
- The road to extinction began in the 19th century when the military would hunt them along with wild pigs.
- Every year until WWI personnel would kill 100 tigers per year. (SAD FACE.) This was done as the people had placed incentives on Tiger skins and other delicacies.
- The last Caspian Tiger was seen in Tbilisi Georgia. It was shot for going after domestic livestock and a farmer’s livelihood.
- The last Caspian tiger is now a taxidermy in the Georgian National Museum.
- Became extinct in the 1970’s
- Lived on the Indonesian island of Java its entire life
- Because the island was so heavily populated, Javan tiger habitats needed to be downsized to create rice fields. Through this process, Javan tigers and other animals were poisoned.
- During unrest in Java, the civilians killed the remaining tigers on the island.
- Some conservationists have stated they have seen sightings of the tigers, but nothing has been confirmed.
- Became extinct in the 1930s
- Lived solely on the island of Bali, Indonesia
- Poaching and hunting were main culprits of the extinction
- No tigers were on record to being saved, though skulls of this species can be found in some local musuems.
Threats to all Tigers
Tigers are not safe. They are all threatened for the most part it is thanks to humans. Their numbers in the wild have severely declined over the decades, causing them to be endangered.
Poaching, especially for body parts required in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is their biggest threat along with illegal furs and skins. Their body parts have become of such high value in the black market, which rarely is a great starting point for relief efforts as it is very tough to control. (especially when the revenue is so great on these poor animals’ parts).
More about TCM
For centuries traditional Chinese medicine has been striving to develop remedies for all human ailments. However, when animals pay the price for such experimentation, the line needs to be drawn.
Tigers are huge victims of the TCM practices and apparent remedies. The amount of tigers killed for body parts is massive and needs to stop. Celebrities as Jackie Chan have started campaigns to stop this trade and experimentation on tigers as there has yet to be any scientific evidence to back some of the believed solutions.
Some stats and what medicines are currently using tiger parts include:
- Tiger eyes for epilepsy remedies
- Tiger brain for acne treatments
- Tiger bones for rheumatism and body aches
- On average at least one tiger is killed each day for TCM purposes.
- Hong Kong imports the majority of Tiger products
- Tiger bones became highly sought after. Currently, Tiger bones are going for upward $375 US per kilogram!
- Sightings of Tiger parts have been located and documented in various parts of England, UK.
- Tiger parts mainly get imported from Bangladesh and Nepal.
- Sadly as the cost of medicines are so high, no signs of stopping poachers are in the works. The price is too enticing.
- The most disturbing of all has to be the Tiger Penis Soup that is sold for $300-$350 a bowl in various Asian nations. It is thought to be an aphrodisiac assisting with sexual illnesses, impotence, and low libido.
Although there have been measures put in place to stop the sales of any medicines using tiger bones or organs, the trade still continues at a high rate thanks to the hefty price tags associated with the products. We won’t see a decline anytime soon without the help and implementation of these initiatives as the population of TCM supporters remains large with beliefs that Western Medicine simply does not have everything it takes to heal particular diseases and ailments.
Ethical Ways to See Tigers
The remaining species of these magnificent animals are being exploited in various parts of the world. Everything from domesticating them to sit with tourists for photos and videos, to poking them for unnatural roaring, to circus training involving stressful, grueling, stunts outside their normal behaviours. I mean, how would YOU like to jump through a flaming hoop 6 feet off the ground? These experiences my friends, are UNETHICAL. By indulging in such activities while abroad, you are feeding that industry, that hurtful activity, and encouraging more animal abuse. There are much better ways to see tigers that don’t involve them being tamed, treated poorly, or forced to behave differently for a traveller’s benefit.
Travel Operators for Tigers (TOFT)
This wonderful group in India strives to help tigers in the wild – all 3,000 total remaining, and give travellers an alternative to supporting those that violate their rights as animals and natural predators. Their main goal is to save the tigers from extinction and protect their habitats upon the Indian subcontinent. Their efforts are strictly of non-profit nature with support from the government, tour operators, and other independents.
These guys offer amazing wildlife safaris for you to spot tigers in their natural habitat from afar. Great photographs can be taken without touching, stroking, or getting close to them. You can view everything about this ethical group on their website here.
This ecotourism company brings ethical ways to see the Sumatran wildlife. You will be in the Sumatran Tiger’s habitat, however, encounters are not guaranteed. Any organization that gives you a 100% guarantee likely has put methods in place to keep the animals trapped or under some kind of duress for tourist benefit. If there is no guarantee, this means the tiger’s natural behaviours, movements, and routines could mean that they won’t be visible while you are on tour. But don’t let that stop you from going! The tours look exceptional and proceeds from your tour price go to helping the tigers and preserving the forests. More about them here.
How you Can help Tigers
There are several ways you can help efforts in saving the remaining tiger species from extinction. Here are a few that have been effective to clean up the mess we humans have made.
- First thing is to boycott unethical experiences wherever tigers are prevalent – Thailand, Indonesia, India, and Russia. Support the ethical experiences in these areas and ensure them that your support and participation is thanks to their respecting these animals along with their ongoing stance on animal welfare.
- Volunteer and/or donate to a charity that actively works on campaigns to preserve and save the tigers and their habitats. WWF and other local charities are good choices.
- Enter data on the Tiger Nation website. This site tracks tiger sightings in the wild and identifies the species accurately through video and photographic footage. This helps protect the spotted animals and keep count in the wild.
- Support certified zoos that have programs in place to save tigers and release them back into the wild.
- Refuse any sort of medication that involves tiger parts.
- Alter your diet removing products and foods that contain palm oil. Palm Oil Plantations implemented in Sumatra have caused habitat destruction and in turn killed tigers in the process.
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The animals section on the blog promotes beautiful animals and how to see them ethically over other ways out there. All opinions are our own and not influenced by any animal activist organization. We are in support of helping the animals, but are not advocates or ambassadors for any charities listed.
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