International Tiger Day, being celebrated this year on July 29, was established to promote public awareness and support for tiger conservation. The tiger is the world’s largest cat and is currently listed as Endangered by the IUCN. Just 100 years ago, there were as many as 100,000 wild tigers in Asia, but today, there are less than 3,000. In the last 80 years, three of the nine subspecies have gone extinct, and the futures of the other six remain dire.
Tigers once roamed the entire continent of Asia, but with human expansion they have lost over 93% of their original range. They now survive in small, isolated pockets of forest, where they are vulnerable to poaching and inbreeding. The primary threats facing tigers are habitat loss, depletion of prey species and poaching. As forests shrink and prey species become scarce, human-tiger conflict increases. And while there has been a ban on the international commercial trade of tigers since 1975, insufficient enforcement by the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has led to sustained poaching. The illegal trade of tiger parts remains a lucrative business, with their bones, meat and skin valued at around $70,000 on the black market. In China, Vietnam, Lao PDR and Thailand, captive breeding facilities have been allowed to proliferate with little oversight and regulation. These tiger farms contribute to the commercial trade of the tiger parts, while passing as conservation breeding facilities.
Globally, the plight of the tiger remains a pressing issue, and we are on the verge of losing this beautiful and iconic species. At Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center, we care for six tigers rescued from the illegal wildlife trade, and this year you can help make a difference by donating to help care for these rescued animals. You can also join the conservation on Facebook, Twitter and Buzzfeed, to learn more about these incredible animals and help spread the word!
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Communications and Finance Field Liaison