Tuesday, May 8, 2007

A portrait for conservation: Tiger Mosaic

(Note from the Author: Apologies, once again blogger refuses to publish pictures.)
The tiger is the planet's largest feline. Individuals can weigh anywhere from 400 to 700+ pounds, depending on age, gender, and subspecies. Their distinctive striped coat pattern is as unique to an individual cat as a humans fingerprint. One of the most revered and reviled of predatory creatures in the world, it is no wonder that they are coveted by lover and loather alike.
Although tigers are listed as "Endangered" and bans on the sale of tiger skins and parts have been in place for years the biggest threat to the world's dwindling populations of Sumatran, Siberian, Bengal, Malayan, Indochinese, and South China tigers (the most critically endangered subspecies) is still poaching. Several subspecies of tiger have already been hunted to extinction.
Fortunately for tigers, they breed well in captivity. In fact, they breed so well in captivity that there are more CAPTIVE tigers than wild tigers. Unfortunately for tigers this has caused a problem...In china tigers are bred on 'tiger farms' as a sort of tourist attraction, but with the hope that someday the government will lift the ban on tiger trade and allow them to sell parts from captive tigers. At first glance this might not seem a bad idea. After all, the alligator shoe and belt trade helped save the American Alligator through captive breeding on alligator farms. Other fur and leather bearing animals are bred on farms, helping to preserve their wild populations. The problem is that the tiger's habitat has become so constricted in some places and it's population so fragile that it cannot at this point sustain itself without human intervention. And ANY lift of the ban on tiger trade would create an opening for poachers to sneak illegal tiger parts and pelts into the market. Poaching would increase, and the delicate balance of nature would be lost.
The World Wildlife Fund has come up with a wonderful and unique way for us to tell China that we oppose any lift of the ban on tiger trade. By uploading your photo to their website you can be included in the world's largest tiger photo mosaic, to be presented at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. They can even show you exactly where you are in the tiger! The deadline for uploading photos is May 21 so that the mosaic can be presented at the convention in June.
Last year the Dalai Lama preached against using, selling or buying wild animals, their pelts or derivatives. Thousands of Tibetans responded by burning, tearing, or throwing away tiger and leopard hides used as rugs and decorations. Only time will tell if this sentiment will spread. Will you help?

No comments: