Image Credit: Vipin Sharma

What are you doing? Reading? While you are reading this someone out there is killing a tiger. We are killing them to extinction. If we don’t stop, all that we will be left with in the next 10 years is posters and zoo sightings. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) we have lost 92 per cent or 36,800 of our wild tigers in just over 40 years. On an average we are killing three tigers everyday. At this rate, tigers will be extinct within a decade. The estimated number of them left in the wild, worldwide, is as low as 3,200 today. Imagine the pace at which they are being trapped, skinned, and pushed out of their homes.

Immediate action is needed to increase and strengthen their habitat and protect the species from major threats, especially poaching. India being the home for half the population, 1,400 wild tigers, Gulf News reader Vipin Sharma shares his experiences in trying to capture the big cat on frame.

He said: “The largest of the cat species is endangered, classified as ‘critical species’ by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), since 2010. We need to protect their habitat for them to survive another decade.” Sharma is a passionate tiger photographer, who travels around the wildlife national parks in India trying to capture the charismatic tigers, in fear that he might not get a chance to explore his passion in a few years.

In 2010, the International Tiger Forum, the first-ever event devoted to saving a species, launched a Global Tiger Recovery Programme (GTRP) with a goal to double the number of wild tigers by 2022. The forum was organised by The Global Tiger Initiative (GTI), a global alliance of governments, international organizations, civil society, the conservation and scientific community, and the private sector committed towards saving tigers. The IUCN and the WWF have joined the programme. They believe that the goal is achievable if all Tiger Range Countries (TRC) governments open their budgets and free funds to secure these heartlands with well trained, managed, motivated and resourced field staff at each site, to support tigers and maintain their habitat and prey.

Why should we save tigers?

- The tiger awes you:

If forests are emptied all that will remain are distant legends and zoo sightings. Can we really say we loved everything about the tiger, except its existence?

- A home for tigers means a home for others:

To protect tigers we need to protect their habitat. The same habitat where many other endangered species reside and help make our planet unique.

- Balanced ecosystems:

As a large predator, the tiger plays a key role in maintaining healthy ecosystems, which supply both Nature and people with fresh water, food, and many other important services.

- Tigers are a lifeline for many people:

Tigers can directly help some of the world’s poorest communities by tourism. Tiger conservation projects also help provide other alternative livelihoods for rural communities.

- The tiger is a survivor:

The tiger has evolved over thousands of years. They are being abused yet they cling to survival, barely, in a few patches of forest scattered across Asia. Don’t they deserve another decade?

 Source: World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

How can you help?

- Donate to tiger projects, you can do so online. Encourage people working for the cause.

- Don’t buy anything with animal products be it their skin, fur or bones. Increase in demand of animal products is the reason behind poaching, the biggest threat to their population.

- Don’t support hunting.

- Spread the word as many might not be aware of the declining population of these critically endangered animals.