In 2016 the world wildlife fund estimated that there were 3890 tigers surviving in the wild. This figure had seen a rise in the numbers from 3200 that were released in 2010, that had followed a century of declining tiger numbers. At the start of the 20th century there were an estimated 100,000 tigers that were roaming the planet but by 2010 this figure had decreased dramatically. The tiger has been on earth for at least 2 million years. Unlike other endangered species the tiger is able to survive in a wide range of ecosystems adapting from the heat to the cold, the animal just needs plains where it can hunt its prey.
The tiger is the apex predator where ever it survives. It is at the top of the food chain, so no animal hunts the tiger. This means that one danger to the survival of the tiger is the disappearing of its food sources. The tiger is a carnivore and eats other animals such as deer, boar and buffalo. However, in certain conditions it will adapt to eating vegetation, berries, frogs and even fish. What the tiger does need is vast areas of land to hunt in and survive. Vast plains and ranges have been the ideal hunting grounds for the animal but the 20th century saw the tiger lose 97% of this land. The loss of land has been mainly due to man either destroying natural habitats such as forests, or using grassland areas for agricultural purposes. The outcome has been that man and tiger wish to occupy the same areas. With the tiger been such a dangerous animal this has led to a situation where it has been removed from areas where it is likely to come into contact with humans.
The tiger has also suffered from being hunted and poached just to satisfy man’s ego. Being an alpha predator it has captured the attention of big game hunters, and the cat has been killed as a coveted trophy. The result of this mass culling is that the tiger is only present in 41% of the areas that it was at the start of the 20th century. The main populations of tigers that survive in the wild today are found mainly on the Indian sub-continent. The Bali Tiger, The Caspian Tiger and the Java Tiger are now all extinct and the species that remain include the Bengal Tiger, the Siberian Tiger, the South China Tiger, the Sumatran Tiger, the Indonesian Tiger and the Malayan Tiger.
The Bengal Tiger is the most populous breed surviving in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan with a population of around 2500 animals. The South China Tiger is the rarest in the world with their being only around 50 surviving in Chinese zoos. The last one to be seen in the wild was over 10 years ago and this animal is one of the 5 most endangered species in the world today. The recent recovery in tiger numbers has been as a result of man’s increasing ability to track and protect the animal. This is however, a very small step forward in relation to the catastrophic drop in numbers that the animal has suffered during the last century. If the world wishes to see the continuation of tigers surviving in their natural habitats, then continued vigilance is required. Natural plains and grasslands need to be protected, and the tiger must be guarded against poachers, if their numbers stand any chance of fully recovering.