• An Image Slideshow
  • An Image Slideshow
  • An Image Slideshow

Tigers and Extinction


Destiny, one of the Bengal tigers in the Emperor Valley Zoo’s tiger breeding programme.

Tigers, well known for their agility and strength, are the largest of all cat species- yes! They do grow bigger than lions!

Tigers are revered by many cultures. They are associated with different Gods and admired for their power. This majestic creature has been part of mythological stories and folklore for hundreds of years and is a symbol of loyalty, elegance, grace, endurance and survival.  The beauty of tigers can also be seen depicted in ancient art of various civilizations. It is the National animal of India and can be seen on portrayed of several National flags. Today, the popular tiger can be seen used in iconic movies and as cartoon characters, school mascots and company logos.

This magnificent species were once found by the thousands across parts of Asia including Bangladesh, Nepal, China, India and Bhutan, Indonesia and Malaysia. Today, sadly, wild tiger numbers are at an all time low. Over the last 100 years, we have lost 97 % of our tiger populations. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), as few as 3,200 tigers remain in the wild today. Tigers are going extinct! Scientists estimate by the year 2022, wild tiger populations will all be gone. They will one day disappear just like the dinosaurs! What is happening to these magnificent creatures? What is causing the tiger numbers to be reduced at this alarming rate?

There were once 8 tiger subspecies on earth and 3 went extinct during the 20th century. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an international organization working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources, have classified the tigers on its red list and categorized all existing subspecies, including the Bengal, Siberian and Sumatran tigers as endangered.

During the last century, tiger populations have reduced significantly because pressures from hunting, destruction of tiger habitat and retaliatory killings. These animals are constantly forced to compete for space with the world’s growing human populations. These amazing creatures are also hunted as trophy animals and for their body parts to be used in traditional Chinese medicine. Tiger parts including teeth, paws and whiskers, contribute to a great portion of the illegal wildlife trade across many borders.

Tiger conservation and education programmes are the key for tiger survival. Today, although several tiger protection programmes are in place, unfortunately, these animals are still vulnerable to becoming extinct. The Zoological Society of Trinidad and Tobago Inc. at the Emperor Valley Zoo, Trinidad has decided to contribute to tiger conservation. The recent acquisition of Bengal or Indian tigers and its tiger breeding and educational tiger programmes, the Zoo aims to help do its part in saving this beautiful species.

Let us not sit by and watch this amazing creature vanish from the face of the earth. Let us do what we can to protect this fascinating species. The future generations should have the right to be able to see these incredible animals in the wild. Lets us together prevent tigers from disappearing forever!

Sharleen Khan
Zoological Officer,
Zoological Society of Trinidad and Tobago