International Tiger Day
What day is it?
Probably, no animal contains so many conflicting essences as the tiger – according to various peoples, it is both the spirit of ancestors and the embodiment of cruelty, and for Indians it is a symbol of the country. The protector of good souls and the lord of demons is also about a tiger. But no matter what people call these animals, the largest representatives of the cat family on Earth always cause admiration for their strength, grace and majesty. But the mighty tigers turned out to be very vulnerable and are under threat of extinction due to human activities. Therefore, it was founded in 2010 International Tiger Day, which is celebrated every year on July 29. This holiday aims to inform the population about the problems of tigers and ways to protect them.
How did the idea to celebrate International Tiger Day come about?
Exactly where the first tigers appeared is still a matter of controversy. There are two main versions of the origin of tigers – Siberian and Asian. According to the first, tigers appeared approximately 2.4 million years ago in Siberia, on the edge of the Arctic. Then they settled to the south, in the direction of China. During the migration, the population split into three groups that inhabited India, Southeast Asia, and the Caspian Sea region. The dispersal process ended about 12,000 years ago, when tigers reached the southern arc from Cape Comorin in India to Bali in Indonesia.
Those who disagree with this theory rely on the fact that the fur of tigers has stripes, which is not at all characteristic of animals of snowy Siberia. Therefore, some scientists consider the eastern part of Asia to be the homeland of animals, and the South Chinese tiger with a more primitive skull shape is the ancestor of all other species. According to the Asian theory, about 2 million years ago, tigers split into two groups, one of which settled in a northern direction, forming the Amur tiger population, and the second moved southeast, to India and Indonesia. In the western direction, the Caspian Sea stopped the tigers.
Be that as it may, tigers have perfectly adapted to different natural conditions — from the frosty Siberian taiga to the hot mangrove forests of Hindustan. However, tigers are still less tolerant of heat than other big cats, and this explains their love of swimming in water.
The largest tigers are Amur tigers. Their length from the nose to the tip of the tail can reach 4 meters, and the weight – up to 300 kilograms. Also, Amur tigers are distinguished by long, soft and fairly light fur. Bengal tigers are somewhat smaller, their length reaches 3.2 meters, and their weight is 230 kilograms, but they are the most numerous and make up half of the entire tiger population on the planet. Sumatran and Indochinese tigers have bright brown-red fur with black stripes. At the same time, the lower part of the body, the inner surface of the paws, cheeks and large spots above the eyes have an almost white color.
Tiger — a predator that hunts mostly at night. Prefers large prey such as wild pigs or deer. Animals that exceed their size are usually avoided by tigers, although cases of attacks on elephants and water buffaloes also occasionally occur. If tigers come close to human settlements, they can hunt livestock. Animals hide uneaten prey away from scavengers to return to it later. The ability to hunt tigers is only partially instinctive, the training of tiger cubs by the mother is much more important. For this reason, tigers raised in captivity cannot survive on their own in nature.
Perhaps no trait of tigers scares us more than the ability to attack a person. This is explained by a number of reasons — for example, animals that have physical limitations due to injury or advanced age resort to this, suffer from a small amount of prey, or are forced to protect their young. Sometimes a tigress sets such an example for tiger cubs and they grow up to be human hunters. However, since the tiger population has been steadily declining, the appearance of man-eating tigers has become a very rare phenomenon.
As solitary animals, tigers (especially males) choose and protect their own territories, the size of which depends on the amount of prey, the presence of other tigers in the area, the availability of water and other factors. Tigers mark their territory by voice, and also mark trees with claws and the smell of the secret of special glands. The solitary life of this species minimizes territorial conflicts, although sometimes they still occur, leading to injuries and even the death of tigers.
Tigers do not have a clear breeding season, but most often tiger cubs appear in winter. Usually the number of cubs is from two to four. They are born blind, and acquire clear vision only at the age of 6-8 weeks. Tiger cubs live with their mother for more than a year, until they acquire all the necessary skills from her. At the same time, males grow faster and, as a rule, start an independent life earlier than females.
Extinction of species
At the beginning of the last century, there were at least 100,000 tigers, but they became fewer and fewer, and some species disappeared altogether. Therefore, the countries where these animals live began to take measures to protect them. Unfortunately, they were not always effective, and by the end of the century, due to various reasons, about 5,000 tigers remained. The southern Chinese species, which has only a few dozen individuals, is under the greatest threat, but all other species are also decreasing in number.
In 2010, a forum of representatives of the countries that are the natural habitat of tigers was organized in St. Petersburg. 13 delegations have adopted an international program to double the number of tigers by 2022. Also at the forum, an idea arose to establish a special holiday – International Tiger Day.
International Tiger Day in history
1947Tiger hunting is prohibited in the Soviet Union. The Amur tiger was listed in the Red Book.
1973India, home to more than half of the world’s tiger population, declared the tiger its national animal and launched the Tiger Project under the auspices of the World Wildlife Fund, thanks to which many reserves received special status and funding.
1977Tiger hunting is prohibited in China. However, due to the use of these animals in folk medicine, the ban was not very effective and the number of tigers continued to decrease.
1995Legislation to protect tigers as well as their habitat has been passed in Nepal.
2006Panthera, an international organization for the protection of wild cats, launched the Tigers Forever project, the goal of which was to increase the number of tigers in key habitat areas by 50% over 10 years.
2010St. Petersburg was distinguished by the holding of the International Forum dedicated to the problem of tiger conservation on the planet – the so-called “Tiger Summit” with the representation of 13 countries. At the summit, a new holiday was announced – International Tiger Day with the date of celebration on July 29.
Frequent Questions and answers on International Tiger Day
It is believed that there are six species of these animals that are genetically distinct: Bengal, Amur, South Chinese, Sumatran, Indochinese and Malayan tigers.
According to Panthera, an organization for the protection of wild cats, three species of tigers disappeared in the 20th century – the Balinese tiger, which disappeared in the 1930s, the Caspian tiger, which was lost in the 1950s, and the Javan tiger, which was last seen in the 1970s years
The white tiger is not a separate subspecies, but has its color due to recessive genes. White tigers have a pink nose, white to cream colored fur with black, gray or chocolate stripes. The eyes are usually blue, but can be amber or green. Interestingly, only Bengal tigers are white.
There are now many more tigers in captivity than in the wild. According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are only about 3,200 of them in nature, while 5,000 of these animals are kept in captivity in the United States alone.
First of all, it is poaching, because there is a great demand for every part of the tiger’s body, from whiskers to tail, in the world. Tigers are also losing their natural habitat due to deforestation. Climate change is also playing a negative role — for example, rising ocean levels are destroying the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest on the planet in the Ganges Delta, home to Bengal tigers.
How to celebrate International Tiger Day?
This holiday has gained the most popularity in countries where tigers live. The event is attended by the highest officials, conferences are arranged, the start of national tiger protection programs is timed, charity and educational actions are held.
Tigers do not live in Ukraine, but everyone who wants to can join the cause of their preservation. It is quite simple to do this – the “Tiger Adoption” program is available on the official website of the World Wildlife Fund. This symbolic name refers to the transfer of a small amount every month, which will help finance various projects, for example, tracking the migration of tigers, fighting poaching, creating new reserves.
Everything on our planet is interconnected, so in order to save tigers, it is worth paying attention to the fight against climate change, because it is one of the reasons for the extinction of these animals. Any actions of each person aimed at reasonable consumption and energy saving will have a positive impact, including on the lives of tigers, as these creatures are part of nature.
On International Tiger Day, charity fundraisers are also held in our country, but you should consciously approach your choice and give preference to donations to reserves and other institutions where these animals are kept in proper conditions.
Why is this day important?
The main goal of this holiday is to inform as many people as possible about the problem of the disappearance of tigers and the actions that can be taken to stop it. Thanks to mass media, which join the information campaign, we learn more about the life of these beautiful animals and the real state of affairs with their protection.
International Tiger Day promotes practical actions aimed at the creation and development of nature reserves, the launch of state programs, and the fight against poaching. Thanks to effective measures, at least two countries — India and Russia — are already reporting a gradual increase in the number of tigers in their territories.
This holiday makes Ukrainians think about the conditions in which tigers are kept in our zoos. It is no secret that they are often forced to sit in cramped and dirty cages, while in fact they need much better conditions. A controversial issue is also circus performances with the participation of tigers, although it is considered a matter of personal beliefs of each person.
When will we celebrate International Tiger Day??