A Siberian tiger (Amur tiger), is one of the few and biggest species of the cat family. It mainly inhabits the mountain parts of Sikhote Alin in the province of Primorye in the East of Russia although some of the tigers maybe found in Northern Korea and China. The number of these tigers is approximated to be around 300-400 who live in the wild. From the studies that have been carried out recently, show that the population of these tigers had stabilized for over a decade by 2005(National Geographic). This species of tiger is considered to be one of the most endangered.
Despite the studies carried out, it was observed from 2006, the number had started declining despite the efforts of conserving this species of tigers. However, in 2015 it was observed that the population increased by almost 50% having the numbers range from 400-500. Over the past century, the number of the Siberian tigers reduced due to various factors. Deforestation and the hunting of these tigers had reduced their numbers to a larger extent from approximately hundred-thousands to almost 5000 (National Geographic). Back then they used to be hunted as prizes and for medicinal purposes by the Chinese back in the days. By 1991, it was approximated that almost to 1/3 of the population of these tigers had been hunted and killed so as to supply the bones and various parts used for medicinal practices (Tigers in Crisis). Despite the many conservation programs, the Siberian tiger is still endangered. Poaching and deforestation as a result of logging and the developments that are carried out in the world are the two main drivers of their decline (Tigers in Crisis). In the winter from 2006 to 2007 the highest number of poaching cases was recorded.
Due to the increase in demand of the animals fur and its body parts, resulted to the increase in cases of poaching of this tiger. On the other side, as the worlds population increases, vast landscapes of forest are being cleared to make way for developments. Logging that is considered illegal or legal, has led to the destruction of the habitats of these tigers. Logging fragments the homes of these tigers leading to their separation away from one another. The logging roads created in these forests provide easy access for poachers to areas that were once considered remote.
Fur is one of the most prestigious types of clothing that is mostly worn by the rich. It came into existence in the beginning of the 20th century. Despite it being expensive and the knowledge that people have of the consequences resulted by the creation of these clothes, it does not stop people from purchasing them. The supply of fur was less which resulted to an increase in the total demand of the fur. Not only were these tigers required for their fur but for their meat and bones too which were used for the medicinal purposes (Lachlei). Due to an increase in the demand of fur, bones and meat, the poaching of the tigers increased. The year 1940, marked on of the heaviest poaching of this tiger which almost led to its extinct.
The old medicinal practices of the Chinese are considered illegal in China. In the year 1993, the Council of State in China declared the killing of the Siberian tiger for the purposes of medicine as illegal. The Council advised the Public Health Ministry and the companies that deal with pharmaceuticals to substitute the body parts of a tiger with other medicines (Tigers in Crisis). Despite this practice being considered illegal, it is very lucrative whereby one tiger can cost almost 50000 dollars in the global market making it a very profitable trade practice (Tigers in Crisis).
Russia was the first country to give full protection to the Siberian tiger. In the 1980s, the population of the Siberian tiger increased to approximately 500. When the Soviet Union collapsed, an increase in poaching was marked (world wildlife). Efforts of anti-poaching and conservation projects were continued by many organizations in the world stabilizing the population at around 600. Despite the population being stabilized, the diversity of genes among the Siberian tiger had greatly reduced due to the heavy poaching in the year 1940. With inbreeding among the cats, it may result to poor health conditions in their offspring resulting to the Siberian tiger being almost extinct genetically (Lachlei).
The Siberian tiger requires vast landscapes of forest to live in. The increment of the worlds population has led to the loss of the tigers habitat. With an increase in population, more land is required for farming and more urban centers keep coming up thus leading to the encroachment of the habitat of the tiger. Economic activities have increased that have led to an increase in the rate of development as well as deforestation. An increase in the demand of timber in the world has also resulted in intensive logging resulting to the destruction of forests. It is in these forests that these tigers find their prey and by destructing the forests, these tigers lack enough food to sustain them. The destruction of their habitats has led to the fragmentation of the tigers hence separating them from one another. The habitat of the tiger has now been restricted to the mountain region in the eastern part of Russia; the Primorye province and a few areas in China and Northern Korea.
Despite the continuous decline in the population of the Siberian tiger over the last century, the population of the tigers started increasing in the 21st century. At the end of the 20th century, the project of the Siberian Tiger was created aimed at improving and providing the ecology picture of the tiger plus its role in the habitat. In 2010, China went into partnership with Russia, to improve on the measures that led to the conservation and the protection of the tigers habitat. Campaigns such as IFTC and Tiger Culture and celebrations such as the China Hunchun Amur Tiger Festival and Global Tiger Day have been held to increase public awareness on the importance of these tigers as well as to reduce the intensive logging. Laws have been passed to illegalize the old medicine practices that used to be practiced in China.
The Siberian tiger has been included on the CITES Appendix I, where they banned its trading internationally as well as in the domestic markets. In 2007, strong measures were enforced at the Conference of the Parties to CITES, to put an end to the poaching of tigers. At this rate, we might have hope in increasing the number of these tigers in the world despite the selfish motives of individuals.
Lachlei, M.B. What are some threats to the Siberian Tiger?. 2016. Animals.mom Website. 2016
National Geographic. Siberian Tiger. Nationalgeographic.com Website. 2016
Tigers in Crisis. Siberian Tiger. Tigersincrisis.com Website. 2016
World Wildlife. Amur Tiger. 2016. Worldwildlife.org Website. 2016
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