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   Daily Blog - Tiger Software

                 November 20, 2007

     
    Poachers Are Pushing
         Tigers to Extinction. 

         Imagine A World with
         No Tigers!

         Help Save The Tiger.


    
William Schmidt, - Tiger Software's Creator
      (C) 2007 William Schmidt, Ph. D.  - All Rights Reserved. 

      No reproductions of this blog or quoting from it
      without explicit written consent by its author is permitted.

     
Back to Home Page - www.tigersoft.com

__________________________________________________________________

     Send any comments or questions
      to william_schmidt@hotmail.com

 

 


                            Mankind's macho, mean-spirited, venal and tawdry
               destruction of tigers in the wild demonstrates that we are tragically
               failing as stewards of the Earth.  We are now its destroyers.

                       More than any other animal, tigers symbolize Nature's beauty,
              majesty and strength. They epitomize Nature outside our control. 
              They teach us humility and help control our tendency to slip into a
              dangerous Hubris.  Think how barren our world will be when
              there are no more tigers.
   In the next Year of The Tiger, 2010, there
              may be no more Wild Tigers.

                           Poachers are pushing them into extinction.  But it's not to late
              to save the tigers.

  
       

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wpe1A.jpg (2337 bytes)     High Risk of Extinction in the Wild..

      Sounds of Roaring Tigers: Be careful if you have any kitties.  I accidentally played one of these sound-roars too loudly and our kitty jumped a foot in the air.  She was truly terrified by
it


  http://new.wavlist.com/soundfx/007/index.html
  http://www.sv.vt.edu/classes/ESM4714/Student_Proj/class95/physics/speed.html
    

      The Tiger

       wpe1D.jpg (38053 bytes)
                                                                       A Chinese Tiger Farm and Park
                                                                               ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6745497.stm )

     The Endangered Tiger:
               The Real King of Beasts

          
                    Tigers are the  largest, most powerful of all the cats.  They are bigger than lions.   In battle, the tiger would win.
        They are supremely beautiful and terrifying. They symbolize raw Nature in all its extremes.  They have always
        fascinated and awed humans.  An average male Siberian Tiger weighs 500 pounds and has a body length of
        8 feet long.  They are 3 feet high.   Females are somewhat smaller.  Siberian tigers have paler, thicker
        yellow-brown fur. The smaller Indian tigers are reddish brown   

                   They prefer dense thickets and the long grass tamarisk shrubs along river banks.  They may live in
        old ruins, caves, hollowed out trees.  As they stalk and ambush their prey. they need dense cover, as well as
        water, shade and game. 
Some can leap 40 feet!  Well-equipped for hunting, their keen eyesight picks up
        even the slightest movement. The tiger's large, cup-shaped ears focus sounds, making its hearing very sensitive.
        A tiger's long, stiff whiskers are used as feelers to help it maneuver through twigs and branches in the dark. The
        tiger's sense of smell is also excellent. Mostly hunting at night, they attack deer, moose, rabbits, rodents, fish,
        bear, elk, lynx, pigs, cattle, goats, buffaloes and antelopes.  They do not kill again until they have finished feeding
        on their last kill.  Tigers defend their territories, but are not known for eating young tigers as much as lions are.

        Tigers are typically solitary hunters and prey mainly on wild pig and deer. If  prey is abundant, as in Chitwan
        National Park in Nepal, their territories range from 10 to 20km≤ for females and 30 to 70km≤ for males. In
        Russia, where the density of prey is much lower, territories vary in size from 200 to 400km≤ for females and
        800 to 1,000km≤ for males.

                  Tigers live only 15 or 18 years in the wild. Most of this time is spent alone, coming together only to mate.
        and for a few months afterwards. "Young tigers or cubs are born from 100 to 112 days after parents have
        mated. Usually tiger cubs are born between February and May after a gestational period of three and a half
        months. The cubs weigh under three pounds at birth and are striped. The cubs' eyes open in 15 to 16 days  a
        litter consists of 1 to 4 cubs, occasionally up to 6, but only 2 to 3 will survive. The mother is responsible for
        defending her cubs, while the father hunts for food. Tiger cubs are weaned at 4 to 6 months, but depend on their
        mother for food and protection for another 2 years
." ( http://www.edu.pe.ca/southernkings/tiger.htm )

                   The characteristic stripe patterns differ from one individual to another and from one side of the cat's body to
         the other. In fact, there are no tigers with identical markings. Males exhibit a characteristic ruff (lengthened hairs
         around the neck), which is especially marked in the Sumatran tiger.

                   Soon they may live only in cages.  They are disappearing rapidly in the wild.  One hundred years ago,
         tigers once roamed Java, Bali and eastern Turkey.  Not any more. The last Javan Tiger was seen in 1981.
         Some say there are
only 5,000 remaining free. Others say a lot less.  "The disastrous impact of poaching and
         the destruction of the natural habitat of one of the planet's most threatened animals will be made clear tomorrow
         when the Indian government is told that its remaining tiger population could be as low as 1,300".  The population
         is "not viable".   "The most recent census, conducted in 2001 and 2002, put the figure at 3,642. But many experts
        questioned the way in which that count was handled and a new census was carried out by the government-run
        Wildlife Institute of India using a more scientifically robust method. While the findings will not be formally announced
        until the end of the year, preliminary results of the new count have put the population at between 1,300 and 1,500." 
            (   October 31, 2007 - http://environment.independent.co.uk/nature/article3112841.ece )

                    These live in isolated, diminishing fragments of  tropical or evergreen forests stretching from India to
          south-eastern China and from the Russian Far East to Sumatra, Indonesia.   They are being poisoned, snared,
         shot and captured for profit    There is a thriving but illegal wildlife trade in tigers.  The threat that poaching   poses
         dwarfs the risks posed them by villagers needing to protect livestock. "Superstition has surrounded tigers for
         centuries; their body parts are used in Asian medicines. Necklets of tiger claws are thought to protect a child
         from "the evil eye"; tiger whiskers are considered either a dreadful poison (in Malaysia), a powerful aphrodisiac
         (in Indonesia), or an aid to childbirth (in India and Pakistan); the bones, fat, liver and penis of a tiger are prized
         as medicines."  

                  The first wave of large scale tiger slaughter came with the British Raj in the form of a ‘hunting sport’;  the
         local Rajahs and Maharajahs also accelerated the process by organizing shoots for the visitors; there are many
         a palaces that display ‘Tiger Rooms’ – tiger-skin rugs, tiger-skin wall hangings, stuffed tigers, tiger-skin upholstery,
         tiger all!
                 
                   "Humans have also altered the natural habitats of tigers by their destruction and encroachment on the
         tigers' feeding range; humans are destroying their habitats by cutting down trees, moving into their preferred
         locations, polluting the water and air, and hunting their prey.

                  "The tiger population of the Indian subcontinent has suffered a serious decline in the last 50 years.
         It is estimated that only 200 tigers survived in Nepal, and only 4,000 in India, up from 2,000 in the 1970s.
         In the 1990s, poaching has escalated in China and Korea, in spite of the Chinese ban on tiger products in 1993.
         At one point in the 1970s, tigers' numbers had dropped to 4,000 compared to 100,000 in the early 1900s. Today,
         the world tiger population still only numbers about 5,000 to 7,000 animals. An intense effort is under way to save
         the endangered tigers. Unfortunately, tigers are still illegally hunted for their fur, bones and other parts to supply
         markets in China and Taiwan. Tigers have been hunted to near extinction by poachers, and all subspecies have
         been declared endangered." ( http://www.edu.pe.ca/southernkings/tiger.htm.)   Tiger bone used in traditional
         Asian medicines sells for as much as $75 to $115 per pound, which is as much as many villagers make in a year.
         Chinese consider tiger genitalia is considered to be an aphrodisiac, a substance thought to contribute to
         sexual stamina.

                  Results of latest Tiger census in India:
          11/7/2007:   http://www.hindu.com/2007/11/07/stories/2007110754970400.htm  

         wpe14.jpg (65415 bytes)
Picture of ultimate humiliation - in Taiwan   (Courtesy: website of The Realm of India's Wild & Endangered Royal Bengal Tiger)
              
"Experts say the reasons for the decline of the tiger are simple. Not enough is being done to halt
      the continued poaching of the animals, which are highly prized in China and other parts of east Asia
      for their pelts and body parts. A tiger skin can fetch up to £5,300 while tiger penises – traditionally believed
      to have near-magical properties – can fetch £14,000 per kilo.
.. Mr Thapar, 55, who has written 15 books
      about tigers during three decades working with the animals, has said it would now "take a miracle" to save
      them. He warned of the impact of the Recognition of Forest Rights Act, a piece of legislation passed last year
      and expected to become law in the coming months, which grants some of India's most impoverished
      communities the right to own and live in the forests... The problem, he said, was that all evidence showed
      humans and tigers could not co-exist. "If you are not going to set aside habitats where there are no humans
      then you cannot have tigers," he said
."

                     ( http://environment.independent.co.uk/nature/article3112841.ece )

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            A dead tigress was found by border guards in a snare south of Slavianka in Khasan. It was inside the
       border zone, some 2-3 km behind the fence that runs parallel to the Chinese border. About 15 snares had
       been placed along two 40 m long trails that went up a slope. The tigress had ended up in a snare close to
       the top of the slope where both trails met. She had probably been dead for three weeks. A team of Inspection
       Tiger transported the tigress to their base. The body will be examined. (Pictures taken on Nov 19, 2004)
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        An area with a diameter of about 8 meters around the tigress was trampled (see photo above). There were
        no leafs left on the ground, indicating that the tigress had tried to free herself from the snare for a long time
        before she died. On a tree about 2 meters from the tigress was a snare with a small piece of what seemed
        boar fur. And twenty meters further on there was yet another trampled area around a snare, where probably
        some other animal had died.
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About 500 meters from the dead tiger, in the same valley and close to a brook, we found 7 empty plastic
       bottles with Chinese writing and a name of some chemical component in Latin script. Probably poison. In the brook
      downstreams from the spot where we found the bottles were small mazed nets placed across the brook, probably to
      collect poisoned frogs.
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       Border fence near which the tigress was found. The fence is on the Russian side, erected at 8-12 km
        from the Chinese border. ( http://www.tigrisfoundation.nl/cms/publish/content/showpage.asp?pageid=29 )
        
        wpe1B.jpg (6216 bytes)        Tigers and China
        Valmik Thapar, Conservationist

                    China has re-opened its domestic trade in tiger products. The trade has been banned for 14 years,
        and using material from wild tigers would remain prohibited. Instead, traditional medicine ingredients such 
        as bone would be sourced from animals kept in farms.  There are thought to be at least five tiger farms in
        China, housing about 5,000 animals, the majority born and bred in captivity.  Astonishingly, that is more tigers
        than remain in the wild.  Animal welfare and conservation groups are virtually united in their opposition.
        Valmik Thapar declares: "If there wasn't a ban on the tiger trade, I assure you there wouldn't be one single
         tiger left in India today."   China is guaranteeing an increase in poaching and signing the death warrants of
         the tigers still free and living in he wild...

                                                                  
 

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"The tiger could easily earn its keep
and buy its way out of extinction, if we allow it to do so."
Barun Mitra,
Liberty Institute, Delhi.
                                     Tiger Farming  
 
               In an information document, Chinese authorities lamenr the financial
    difficulties which their tiger and bear  farm faces.   "We need 50,000,000 RMB
    ($6,500,000) to run the zoo, and yet, the income from tourism was just
    15,000,000 RMB ($2,000,000).  "Without a fresh financial support, the
    1,000 tigers would be starving. Then, it would become meaningless to talk about
     protections of these animals."   Mr Mitra's thesis is that money should be made
     from tigers in a number of ways, from ecotourism to trading in tiger parts.  The
    demand for crocodile skin used, he says, to be met by poaching. Nowadays the
    supply chain starts in crocodile farms, which provide the same material at a fraction
    of the cost.   As a result, crocodile numbers in the wild have risen; and he believes
    exactly the same thing could happen with tigers.

      wpe1F.jpg (5616 bytes)      Russia and Tigers   wpe20.jpg (10099 bytes)

                In Russian Amur (Siberian) tigers have been hunted almost to extinction. Logging threatens the Siberian
        tiger's already shrinking habitat but poaching is the biggest threat. It has has greatly increased since the borders
        between Russia, China, and North Korea opened. "The situation is so serious that a new breed of environmentalist
        has broken with peace loving green traditions, and taken-up arms to fight tiger traffickers. Habitat destruction from
        forest fires and logging are killing tigers at a terrifying rate, but poachers are an even bigger threat. A tiger can sell
        for around $1,500 (£800), but broken into body parts, the value can soar to $50,000 (£26,500). Profits are high
        and the traffickers are armed and dangerous.    In response, armed brigades Of rangers, former poachers, military
        veterans of TechNet, Afghanistan and even the Chamber Rouge, are fighting a new war on behalf of the world's wildlife.
              :The battle began in Russia in the early 1990s amid the political and economic chaos after the collapse
        of Communism.  The world's biggest cats, commonly called Siberian tigers, but correctly known as Amur tigers,
        were being slaughtered at a rate of around 70 a year and only a few hundred remained.  As Amur tigers teetered
        on the edge of extinction, an American called Steve Glassier, founder of the charity wielded, arrived offering technical
        expertise and money.
              "With the approval of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Steve and his colleagues established Inspection Tiger.
        Steve describes Inspection Tiger rangers as "environmental cops" and in order to give it them the teeth they needed,
        "they had to be given state inspector status... so they could carry their own badge and guns."  Although officially a
        government department, Inspection Tiger is now funded almost entirely by international wildlife charities.  Since the
        patrols began, tiger numbers have stabilized, but only a few hundred remain and if left unprotected, they are at
        constant risk from poachers.
              "Inspection Tiger now has half a dozen anti-poaching patrols in the Russian far east, the home of the Amur tiger.
        This region shares a long border with China - one of the world's biggest markets for tigers....In the port of Slavyanka,
        just 10 miles from the Chinese border, the anti-poaching unit is led by Andrei Yurchenko, a former lieutenant-colonel
        in the Russian Special Forces.  
              "It is extremely rare for a tiger poacher to be caught in the act. Even if someone is found in possession of a
        tiger skin, it is almost impossible to prove that they actually killed the tiger. Corruption in this area is rife and not
        long ago Andrei's patrol confiscated a tiger skin from a member of the local parliament.  It was obvious that the tiger
        had been deliberately shot, but there was no proof, and as a member of parliament he is immune from prosecution.
        He was fined just $50 (£26) and the tiger skin was confiscated, but the man is still in office as an elected representative."

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http://ranthambhore.blogspot.com/2007/08/mogiya-poachers-busted-outside.html

    
    Poaching reference:
http://projecttiger.nic.in/poaching.asp
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Now he understands how a Tiger feels in a zoo!


             The Amur tiger is listed in the Russian Red Book for endangered animals, however the punishment for killing the
       state protected animal is the same as for illegal hunting of ducks or hares. Viktor Gekht, a lawyer for the Far Eastern
       Branch of WWF based in Vladivostok, said that such punishment would never stop poachers and the federal laws
       should introduce more harsh sentences on poachers hunting for endangered species, including prison terms of five to
      seven years.  Andrei Yurchenko, a specialist from the Tiger inspectorate working in the Khasan district, told the
      Vladivostok News that "only if killing of a leopard or a tiger was viewed as killing of a man could there be a chance to
       improve the situation with wild cats in the Russian Far East."  In recent years the inspectors and ecologists have
       cracked down on poachers but need far more rights and stricter federal laws. The inspectors from the Tiger
       organization, operating in the Far East for over 10 years, say that despite all their efforts poachers annually kill
       about 30 to 40 Amur tigers. At present there are no more than 450 of the species left in the wild."
            (February 17, 2004 http://vn.vladnews.ru/Arch/2004/ISS403/News/upd17_1.HTM )

            
TERNEY, RUSSIA (March 31, 2005) Olga, the first Siberian tiger ever fitted with a radio-collar, is dead,
       according to officials from the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society, who have been tracking
       the big cat for the past 13 years. The 14-year-old tiger, missing since January, is presumed killed by
       poachers who destroyed her radio collar.  ( http://news.mongabay.com/2005/0402-wcs.html )
       "To our knowledge, Olga is the oldest, and the most intensively studied tiger in the world," said
       Dale Miquelle, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Russia Program, and one of the people
       who first radio-collared Olga. For many of us, Olga was a symbol of the tiger's resilience and capacity
       to live side by side with humans. It was a privilege to be able to observe for such a long period, and
       it's a shame that we could not have followed her longer to witness a more dignified death from old age."

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   Andrei Yurchenko, a former lieutenant-colonel in the Russian Special Forces. So his rangers are not tempted to take bribes, Andrei subsidizes their wages from this own pocket/

  
"It is extremely rare for a tiger poacher to be caught in the act. Even if someone is found in possession of a tiger skin, it is almost impossible to prove that they actually killed the tiger."
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/this_world/4305239.stm

  Transcript of interview:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/programmes/this_world/transcripts/this_world_tiger_traffic.txt

    Russian conservation efforts receive significant support from World Wildlife Foundation and  the Phoenix Fund. To get much
more information on Inspection Tiger, please go to
 
http://www.phoenix.vl.ru/zoom/ITannivers.htm

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                     Poaching for Profit

Understanding that local poachers are just a small link in a chain to a multi-million dollar international network, Andrei Yurchenko decided to use the politician's confiscated tiger skin as bait for a local illegal wildlife dealer.

A radio tracker was fixed into the tiger's head and the patrol was able to follow the skin and see how it left Russia.

The undercover operation was filmed by several hidden cameras as part of the BBC documentary, Tiger Traffic.

Steve Galster and his colleagues have now taken their armed conservation approach to South-East Asia. In Thailand, the government was very slow to sanction WildAid's operations, until a ranger and poacher were shot and killed in a national park.

Although the tragedy helped the Thai Government take the situation seriously, patrols are still fighting apathy and indifference. Even if poachers are successfully convicted, fines are minimal and provide no deterrence.

Last year, a car driven by a notorious wildlife dealer was stopped near the Thailand-Laos border. Inside the car boot a tiger had been callously chopped in half to make it fit. Despite being a repeat offender, the trafficker was fined just $150 (£80).

In Myanmar, formerly Burma, traders openly sell tiger bones, teeth, skulls and even penises. Other traders were secretly filmed with 80 leopard skins and although they had no tiger skins in stock, they offered to supply them for a staggering $2,500 (£1,320), more than 30 times the price of a leopard skin.

For Steve Galster the price tag had very sinister implications.

"Tiger skins are very expensive because nobody has any at the moment," he says.

"They're hard to find and that's because there aren't many tigers left in the forest!"

      

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           Panthera tigris sumatrae

The Sumatran tiger as its name suggests is found only on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia.   It is the smallest of the tigers alive today - a Sumatran male will measure an average of 2.4m from its nose to the tip of its tail and weigh between100-170kg.   Like all tigers the Sumatran is critically endangered because of poaching and habitat destruction there are as few as 350 left in the wild today.

  http://www.tigertrust.info/thesumatrantiger.htm



                   wpe15.jpg (9250 bytes)


                      
In 1972, India led the world in efforts to save the tiger by setting aside a number of areas as tiger
        reserves complete with patrolling guards. But poaching  continues due to widespread corruption and a lack
        of alternative incomes for village populations that continue to grow.  The tiger  is protected under the Convention
        on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES),  an agreement among more
        than 120 nations to eliminate illegal trade in animals and plants, such as wild tigers, and their parts and associated
        products. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the federal agency responsible for the U.S. government's compliance
        with the CITES treaty.

               The U.S. government imposed wildlife trade sanctions on Taiwan in 1994 for that country's illegal trade in
         tiger as well as rhinoceros parts and products -- the first time the U.S. government has taken such action on
         another country to penalize illegal trade in critically endangered wildlife. In addition, all tiger species are listed as
         endangered species under the Endangered Species Act, prohibiting tiger parts and products from being imported
         into the United States except under certain conditions.
         ( http://www.fws.gov/species/species_accounts/bio_tige.html   )

             Tigers have dens in caves, tree hollows and dense vegetation. They are mostly nocturnal but in the northern
         part of its range, the Siberian subspecies may also be active during the day at winter-time. Using their sight and
         hearing rather than smell, the tiger stalks its prey and once it has reached close proximity, attacks from the side
         or rear and kills by a bite to the neck or the back of the head.
          (T)igers patrol their territories ...over a period of days or weeks and it is marked with urine and feces."
                   ( http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/what_we_do/species/about_species/species_factsheets/tigers/index.cfm )

           

          ZOOs Are A Poor Solution

      
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wpe1F.jpg (3518 bytes)http://www.savethetigerfund.org  

Tiger Killed in Fight Over Food at Park

Animal rights activists called Monday for improved living conditions at China's wild animal parks after the deaths of captive tigers from disease and starvation, including a tiger killed by four other cats in a fight over meager food supplies at a zoo in northeast China.  More...

 

                 Zoo Tigers

 

200-300 captive animals live in zoos around the world. In addition to the 65 Sumatran tigers living in Indonesian zoos, there are 55 tigers managed by North American zoos, 164 in European zoos(2003), and 12 in Australasian zoos. 

But, zoos may the only place the species is safe.
And more of the young survive in zoons than
in the wild.

The San Diego's Zoo' s Tiger River exhibit is
one of the best, giving the zoo's Malayan Tigers
plenty of area to exercise. 
. wpe1C.jpg (13759 bytes)
   http://www.sandiegozoo.org/zoo/ex_tiger_river.html

http://www.tigertrust.info/latestnews.htm

                             

                                                   STUNT TIGERS
            http://www.tigerfriends.com/ 

            http://www.mirage.com/attractions/attractions_white_tigers.aspx

           Siegfried and Roy at the Mirage - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtolCP-BPkQ
                                               part 2 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lszO3tW13cQ

            nice pic -   http://www.dotphoto.com/GuestViewImage.asp?AID=981620&IID=29970982&INUM=42&ICT=50&IPP=48

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                         http://www.the-south-asian.com/April2001/hunted_trophies.jpg
          
             Other Tiger Foundations That Need Help

           http://www.save-tiger.blogspot.com/

           http://www.dreamworld.com.au/content/standard3.asp?name=HelpingToSaveTigers

           http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=7650

           http://www.tigertrust.info/thesumatrantiger.htm

           http://www.savethetigerfund.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home1

           http://www.save-tiger.blogspot.com/

           http://projecttiger.nic.in/whyshouldwesavetiger.htm       http://projecttiger.nic.in/index.asp

           This list will be expanded.                   
  
The tiger "a symbol of..."

 

Images of tigers have been discovered as far back as 1700 B.C. (4,000 years ago) and throughout history the tiger has been a symbol of both power and strength.  Used as executioners in Asian courts; for entertainment in European gladiatorial combats; and as a status symbol for monarchs.   
Tigers have long been thought to hold some mystical, supernatural power.   The shang people of China believed tigers (lau hu) were messengers between the human and spirit world, images of tigers were placed upon tombs to warn off evil spirits.  In the Hindu religion Shiva the destroyer rides a tiger (Bagh) and wears a tiger skin, followers of Buddah ride tigers to show their supernatural ability to overcome evil.   Forest dwellers of India built shrines and temples to worship them, Islam followers in Sumatra believe tigers (rimau) punish sinners on behalf of Allah.

           Videos

   http://www.sandiegozoo.org/animalbytes/t-tiger.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60KqJCRg-hE
   http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/03/0327_060327_tigers_video.html  

http://www.tigerhomes.org/animal/sanctuary-videos/bengal-tiger-video-2.cfm

Scary - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LjG7S8aqJg

http://www.arkive.org/species/GES/mammals/Panthera_tigris/more_moving_images.html

Humor - http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1757059

Toronto must offer a cold climate for Sumatran Rain Forest tigers.
http://www.torontozoo.com/Animals/videos.asp

http://savethetigerfund.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=TigerVideos1&Template=/CM/HTMLDisplay.cfm&ContentID=5264

Poaching: http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=50238228  

             Stories about Tigers

The Story of Goddess Durga

The tiger is vahana(vehicle) of goddess DURGA. Do you know th
at in Nepal there is no burning of Ravana on Dusshera because it is believed that Goddess Durga, riding a tiger, killed Mahishasura ( a buffalo-headed demon) on the same day. Mahishasura it is said , was so powerful that none of the gods were able to defeat him. Therefore they met together to form Durga with 18 hands, many weapons, riding a tiger. It thus shows that tiger has always been a very important symbol of power & might.

The story of Lord Ayyappan:

Ayyappan was born as a result of alliance between Siva & Vishnu when Vishnu appearded in Mohini Rupa after churning of milky ocean. He is the third son of Siva after Ganesha and Kartikeya. Ayyappan, was found by a childless king & queen on the bank of a river. They brought him home as
their own child. But when the queen had a child of her own she became jealous of Ayyappan. The queen pretended that she was very ill & she would be cured by drinking tiger's milk. Ayyappan , who was 12 years old volunteered & went to the forest. He returned riding a tiger followed by all tigers of the forest. The king begged for forgiveness & asked where did Ayyapan want his temple to be built?

Ayyapan fired an arrow & it fell at a place Sabari. Hence, the Sabarimalai temple was built. Both the stories thus show how important the tiger has been to our mythology. The tiger has been an important part of Chinese, Korean, Sumerian , Japanese & European mythologies. It is a pity that the tiger is endangered because of us humans killing it discriminately. Killing a tiger with a sword or a spear has always been considered very courageous.


KOREAN STORIES

The Legend of Dan-gun


In the ancient times, Hwan-In ruled the heaven. He loved his son, Hwan- Ung who was a clever, compassionate & constructive man. One day, Hwan-Ung pleaded with his father to let him go to earth & rule Korea. Hwan -In said yes and sent him along with Pung-Beg (the Earl of Wind), U-Sa (the Chancellor of Rain), and Un-Sa (The Chancellor of Clouds). The ministers were able to control rain, wind, clouds, and all natural elements. Meanwhile a bear and a tiger lived on the earth in a cave near a sandalwood tree & wanted to become human. Hwan-ung told them that to become humans they will have to live in a dark cave for 100 days & eat only garlic and mugwort. The bear lived in the cave, but the tiger was extremely restless and ran away. The bear became a beautiful woman, married Hwan-Ung was made the Queen. Soon she gave birth to a prince, Dan-gun, or the Sandalwood King. Dan-gun reigned as the first human king of the North Korea. Koreans believe that the tiger still roams the mountains. Though the tiger did not become a human, even today people's affection for the tiger is special. The tiger is seen as brave and sacred.

The Mountain Spirit

In ancient times the tiger was a messenger of the mountain spirit, San Shin.


The Matchmakng Mountain Spirit

Once upon a time there lived a rich man Kim, who had a beautiful daughter named Ok-bun. Ok-bun became friend with a poor boy P'al-bong. Both of them were very close friends. As they got older, Ok-bun's father realized that they loved each other & wanted to get married. Kim decided to marry his daughter to Tol-swae, who was also a nobleman. Kim wanted to get her married quickly & arranged for the engagement and set an early wedding date. Both Ok-bun & P'al-bong felt very sad. On the wedding day when the bridegroom entered the bridal chamber, where Ok-bun was waiting for him, a tiger took away Ok-bun.

The tiger dropped Ok-bun at P'al-bong's door. In the meantime, Tol-swae searched to look for Ok-bun. He thought she had surely been killed by the tiger. When everybody found Ok-bun then everyone nodded and said that it was the mountain spirit, San Shin, at his matchmaking again, and that no human should interfere. So a marriage between the two childhood sweethearts was arranged and they lived happily every after.

References

The Tiger Call, Published in March, 1996, WWF-IndiaFolk Tales from Korea, 3rd edition, by Zong In-Sob, 1982, Hollym International Corp: New Jersey Tiger, Burning Bright, Kathleen J. Crane Foundation, 1992, Hollym International Corp: New Jersey
   (Source: http://projecttiger.nic.in/tigerstories.htm )


                                      Exxon and Save The Tiger Fund

ExxonMobil was instrumental in the establishment of the Save The Tiger Fund in 1995. A partnership between ExxonMobil, the National Fish and Wildlife Fund, and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, the Save The Tiger Fund is dedicated to supporting the conservation of Asia’s remaining wild tigers.

ExxonMobil has provided $1 million annually to support the Save The Tiger Fund since its establishment and more than $13 million in total in tiger-range countries since 1992. This represents one of the largest corporate commitments ever made to saving a species.

In the early '90s, many predicted that tigers would be nearing extinction in the wild by the year 2000. Save The Tiger Fund is one of only a handful of organizations worldwide to focus solely on tigers. 

Since its establishment in 1995, Save The Tiger Fund has awarded 270 grants totaling over $13.4 million dollars to support tiger focused projects in 13 of the 14 tiger-range countries. Thousands of individuals, from school children to business professionals, have joined ExxonMobil, Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in contributing to the effort to save the tiger, and they are making an impact from the snowy forests of the Russian Far East to the steamy jungles of Indonesia.

The Fund invests in a variety of different projects that increase cooperation and communication, build local leadership, and deliver effective on-the-ground conservation to tigers in human-dominated landscapes.

Save the Tiger Fund grants comprise nearly one-third of all funds invested in tiger conservation worldwide. The Fund works with international organizations such as World Wildlife Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society and WildAid along with local native organizations in tiger-range countries.

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      Once Upon A Time Tigers riamed widely.
              See how their range has changed over time:
    http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=50238228

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  Bengal Tigers:   http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/bengal-tiger.html

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                           White Tiger's History

Early breeding history of the white tiger in US Zoos

 

While lions have always been bred with ease, there were very few records of tiger births in captivity before 1950's, according to the 1968 issue of the International Zoo Yearbook, and those that were born seldom lived to maturity.  Difficulties in breeding success were thought to be due to the tiger's solitary nature and the aggression the female showed towards the male after mating that discouraged further attempts to copulate. Other factors thought to interfere with breeding success were related to vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the diet of the times, which was commonly just horsemeat and milk. Tiger mothers often failed to care for young, and hand rearing was not often attempted. Feline Distemper also took its toll on cubs.  These factors explain many of the early mortalities of white tiger breeding programs. However today the tiger is a species that breeds easily in captivity, and hand rearing is usually successful. "Research has improved diet, kitten formulas and inoculations, but most importantly," according to Rotterdam Zoo, a leader in early tiger breeding success, "it is the improvement in keeper knowledge and awareness that has been the secret to the survival of tigers in captivity."

 

The National Zoo, Washington DC - In 1960 amidst much excitement, the National Zoo received one of Mohan's daughters, a white cub named Mohini. Later, when Mohini became mature, her uncle Sampson, brother of her mother Radha was imported to be her mate. The first litter produced one white cub and two orange cubs but only the orange male Ramana, survived. The second litter produced two more orange cubs; one was stillborn, but the female named Kesari survived.

 

The National Zoo efforts concentrated on producing white offspring.  Mohini, who was born to her father and her sister, was now mated with her orange son, Ramana.  Rewati, a white female born in 1970 was the surviving cub of this litter.  At that time the worldwide population of white tigers in captivity numbered just three dozen. The next litter consisted of two white and three orange cubs and a day later another stillborn was delivered.  Mohini crushed three of the cubs during her strenuous labor leaving only the white female cub Moni alive.

 

Cincinnati Zoo, Ohio - The National Zoo loaned the Cincinnati Zoo the orange brother and sister pair Ramana and Kesari while it renovated its cat habitats.  This pair was grandchildren of Mohan as well as great grandchildren of Mohan, and their father Sampson was the half-brother and uncle of their mother Mohini.  In 1974 they bred while at Cincinnati producing a single litter that consisted of three white cubs and one orange cub.  Ramana passed away a short time later.  One white male from that litter, named Ranjit was eventually sent to the Henry Doorly Zoo, the other siblings returned to the National Zoo.

 

In 1976 the Cincinnati Zoo borrowed an unrelated white tiger named Tony, on loan from John Cuneo of the Hawthorne Corporation and bred him to the lone female white tiger Kesari.  Tony was a white cub, born to normal orange parents from a different bloodline then Mohini.   Sumita and Bhim, the white siblings from this pairing were bred to each other many times. They produced white cubs with stripes and cubs that had almost no stripes. In April 1983 a litter of 3 white cubs, including the first pure white tiger born were sold to magicians Siegfried and Roy and formed the foundation stock for their white tiger program.   Many other white and white-gene tigers were born at Cincinnati and sold or traded to zoological parks in the US, West Germany, Thailand, Japan and other counties for different valuable species. 

 

In 1989, Cincinnati Zoo received two new female white Bengal tigers. Sipra and Swapna were born in 1983 at Orissa Park in India and were pure Bengal tigers. Director Ed Maruska supported the idea of breeding white tiger genes into the Bengal population, however, the Bengal tiger was not an SSP approved animal so in the 10 years these sisters were at Cincinnati they were never bred and they passed away in the late 1990's without contributing their genes to the US population.

 

Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, Nebraska - In 1978, Henry Doorly Zoo received Ranjit, the son of Kesari and Ramana. Dr. Lee Simmons was in charge of the tiger-breeding program. He was a leader who was influential in his field and located expertise on all levels of species management to bring them together for the betterment of conservation. This was before the creation of the first Species Survival Plan and it was this collaboration among professionals that aided Dr. Seal to develop the concept of the SSP adopted by AZA zoos today.

 

Dr. Lee Simmons was dedicated to improving the health of the white tiger gene pool.  Henry Doorly built a stock of heterozygous tigers by pairing Rangit with normal colored tigresses, namely Mus Kative, Soma and Tanya.

 

The sons and daughters of Ranjit by different mothers were crossed to produce litters of both orange and white tigers. Offspring were mostly healthy and free of defects, though there were individuals that had problems. Dr. Lindsey Phillips recalls operating on a 7-day-old tiger cub to correct gastric dilation.

 

Heterozygous tigers Rajah and Sheba II and their daughter Obie were purchased from Baron VonUhl of Shrine Circus to enhance the gene pool of the Henry Doorly white tiger breeding program. Ranjit was bred to heterozygous Obie and produced litters of white and orange cubs.

 

Racine Zoological Gardens, Racine, WI - In May 1984, a white female was born to a pair of orange tigers in the Racine Zoological Garden. The father of this cub was Chiquita, the brother to Tony, the white male owned by John Cuneo, purchased from Baron VonUlh of the Shrine Circus. Jim Witchie, a private breeder in Ohio, owned Chiquita. The mother of this litter was Bonnie, who was born at the Racine Zoo. Her father Bucky came from the Indianapolis Zoo. When Bonnie was accidentally bred to her father Bucky they produced a litter of white and orange cubs in 1982, revealing that Bucky carried the recessive white fur gene and had passed it on to his daughter.   

 

Columbus Zoo, Ohio - Ika, a three-legged white female tiger on loan from the Hawthorn Corporation was paired with a heterozygous female, Dally on lean from Cincinnati Zoo. In 1986 they produced a litter of 2 orange and one white cub.

 

Other white tiger bloodlines in the US Baron VonUhl - Shrine Circus Sarasota, Florida - In addition to the progeny of the National Zoo's Mohini and Sampson line in the US, other identifiable lines do exist.  The Baron purchased an imported Bengal tigress named Susie and a Siberian-cross tiger Kubla from the Sioux Falls Zoo in South Dakota.  These tigers apparently carried a recessive gene for the white coats and when the Baron bred them together white offspring unexpectedly were born. Since these cats did not have white parents, they must have inherited the white gene from grandparents or even their great-grandparents imported from India. Tony, the white male purchased by John Cuneo was one of their offspring. Other litters born to this pair were sold to the Ringling Brothers Circus.  Eventually, the Henry Doorly Zoo purchased Rajah and Sheba II for their white tiger breeding program.

 

John Cuneo, Hawthorn Corporation, Illinois - John Cuneo of the Hawthorne Corporation traces one of his lines back to Rajah and Sheba II, two tigers owned by Baron VonUhl, of the Shrine Circus.  Mr. Cuneo purchased Tony, the two-year-old white offspring of this tiger pair from Mr. VonUhl. 

 

The Hawthorn Corporation also had another line of white gene tigers. A sibling pair of heterozygous tigers named Sheba III and Prince were purchased from the International Animal Exchange, who had imported the pair from India.  This pair produced at least five litters with two of these offspring white. The heterozygous daughters Rani and Baby were bred to Tony to produce mostly white litters.

 

The Hawthorn Corporation, which specialized in breeding and training of tigers for circus acts, was a major leader in white tiger breeding in the early decades, producing nearly 3 dozen white offspring by the mid eighties.

 

Jim Witchie, Ohio- Private breeder/dealer Jim owned Chiquita, the brother of Tony and used him in his white tiger breeding program selling many offspring to other private facilities.

 

Josip Marcan, Florida - Josip's white tigers originated from another bloodline from Yugoslavian imports and are of pure Bengal origin. He has carefully maintained his Bengal purity and his breeding program produces the snow-white tiger and golden tabby tiger as well as the classic white tiger with the magnificent black stripes.  Marcan, a doctor of veterinary medicine, recognizes the dangers of overpopulation and limits his breeding program to insure that his offspring have a secure future.   

    

White Tiger Genetics

 

White tiger cubs are produced when the recessive gene for the color white is inherited from both parents. There are orange tigers that have inherited a white gene from one parent, but an orange gene from the other parent. Such cats have one of each gene to potentially contribute to its offspring and are known as heterozygous. It is a roll of the dice which gene is inherited. If an orange tiger that carries the white gene is mated to a white tiger - there is a 50% chance of white offspring, since the white tiger has only has white genes to contribute and the orange has two possible colors to contribute.  If two such heterozygous tigers are mated, there is a 1 in 4 chance the offspring will be white. A white tiger only has white genes for its offspring to inherit; therefore two white tigers mated together produce only white cubs.

 

As this article shows, the white gene can be inherited for many generations in an orange tiger and if it is bred with another tiger carrying this recessive gene, seemingly spontaneous white offspring can occur. Most likely this happens when offspring are bred to parent, such as the cases of Bonnie and Bucky, or siblings are bred such as Sheba II and Prince, because that greatly increases the random chance that two cats being bred are carrying the white gene.  The spontaneous occurrence of white tigers in the US shows that apparently several orange Bengal tigers imported from India were surprise carriers of the recessive white gene.

 

Sadly, the AZA Zoo's Felid TAG recommended phasing out the Bengal tigers in US collections and Species Survival Plans were developed for only three out of five existing tiger sub-species. This change of interest meant that the work of the previous decade performed by Henry Doorly Zoo to improve the genetics of the white tiger bloodline was abandoned.  As the AZA zoo world turned its attentions to other sub-species, some of the white and heterozygous orange tigers were sold and traded to private zoos such as Tanganyika, owned by Jim Fouts, and dealers such as International Animal Exchange operated by the Hunts where they became founders of the private sector white tiger gene pools.

 

44 years after Mohini arrived there are now several hundred white tigers alive and well in the US today.  That translates into approximately 9 generations since Mohini.  If all private owners had continued to inbreed their tigers as intensively as was done in the early history of Mohan and Mohini, this would be impossible. Inbreeding decreases survivability by compromising immune systems and increasing genetic defects.   Inbreeding continued on the level described in this early history would eventually result in extinction due to total loss of offspring survivability.

 

Instead, the opposite occurred. Through countless out-crossings the white gene is no longer rare in the privately owned captive tiger population.  Josip Marcan guessed the white tiger population in the US ranges from 250 to 300.  Other estimates bring it closer to 400.  For every white tiger there are several orange that carry the white gene so one could be looking at 1000 tigers with this white gene. This seems to be a reasonable estimate considering that in a privately kept white tiger studbook, 233 tigers were documented born white or heterozygous in the first 3 decades since Mohini.

 

It is true that some breeders operate with limited resources and understanding of the importance of genetic diversity, inbreeding parent to offspring or brother to sister producing cubs with hip dysplasia, cleft palates and crossed eyes. However, many facilities produce this color variation by introducing unrelated genetics to known white gene carriers to increase the genetic diversity and strengthen the health of their bloodlines.

 

A big boost to the diversity of the white tiger genetics happened after the US F&W S Generic Tiger Ruling in 1998 eliminated the CBW permit requirement, allowing breeders to purchase new bloodlines in interstate commerce without restriction - and they did.  Unfortunately the boom in breeding tigers for color produced an abundance of tigers that exceed the carrying capacity of the available captive habitat. This overpopulation has caused instability and is the driving force behind many of state and county ban laws passed in recent years, as well as the Congressional passage of the Captive Wildlife Safety Act amendment to the Lacey Act.

 

Two views of Conservation

 

Conservation is a word with many meanings. The US Department of Interior is charged with conserving our natural resources and defines this word to mean using habitats, resources, animals, and plants wisely so as to save them for future generations. 

 

The present interpretation of conservation held by AZA zoos is that species held in captivity should be managed with possible re-introduction in mind. This requires animals in a breeding program be the same sub-species as those found in the wild that they might someday be released into. This dictate has caused species managers to turn against the "generic" white tiger, even though the possibility of actually reintroducing such a large and dangerous predator as a tiger into native habitat is remote at best.

 

Just look at the facts, notes Josip Marcan, "In 1960 there were 3 billion people on this planet.  In 2000 the world population had doubled to 6 billion.  In the next 40 years experts predict 12 to 15 billion humans will be competing for space on a planet that isn't getting any bigger. Tigers are going to be gone.  They are nearly gone now, found only in a few protected reserves. There is no sense in tiger reintroduction unless we are going to reduce human population. China has a one child per family policy, India does not, and India will surpass China in population shortly.  The tiger's future is dependent upon captivity."

 

Could the white tiger survive in the wild? Outspoken and opinionated critics like Ron Tilson of the AZA's Tiger SSP say the coloration is just an aberrant mutation, a freak of nature destined to die out. This ignores that fact that most animals do not see in color, and the white color of a tiger might not be any disadvantage when hunting prey.  And as this article documents there are several wild tigers captured in India that must have carried the white gene.

 

One thing is for sure, we humans see our world in full color and white attracts our attention, our admiration, and our desire - the desire to possess, especially anything rare. Some seek to possess of the living being, others want the trophy body.  Either way, over time the white tiger was selectively removed from nature whenever man observed it.

 

The white tiger lives in a captive habitat controlled by humans.  Someday, captivity may be the only environment where any tigers live. Humans are the major selection factor that determines what genes get passed on to the next generation. In the private sector the genes that please humanity are the ones chosen by breeders and collectors to survive - personalities that are reliable and stable and colors that delight the senses are selectively allowed to reproduce and flourish.

 

The AZA zoo community concentrates on maintaining three sub-species pure tiger populations, importing new pedigreed-to-the-wild breeding stock to build up their tiny gene pools. The entire population of Indo-Chinese tigers in the SSP had only 4 founders until more wild tigers were imported last year. The Sumatran tiger plan has just 14 founders.  Zoos continue to seek out new wild blood in the hopes of building a captive population for future reintroduction onto the wild. Great sums of money are spent each year for a plan that deliberately ignores the conservation value of the already existing generic tiger population.  These tigers exist in captivity in great abundance and could be exhibited by zoos to educate the public about the ecological role and conservation needs of the species so that wild specimens or captive purebred subspecies are not needed.

 

Ironically this AZA approach to tiger sub-species purity management might someday be universally accepted as unnecessary if the findings published in a paper titled Tiger (Panthera tigris) molecular diversity and conservation genetics: Progress towards a better understanding of the evolution of Asian cats submitted by Warren E Johnson to the AZA Felid TAG receives further scientific corroboration.  In this paper, Johnson writes "Relatively low genetic variation was found among all tiger subspecies, particularly with mtDNA and DRB markers, where tigers had tenfold less overall variation compared with other Felidae species. Genetic homogenization of the entire species was followed by rapid dispersal throughout its current distribution. Since 20,000 to 25,000 years ago, genetic drift and reduced gene flow has led to a small amount of genetic differentiation among some tiger populations. Although, recognizable, these differences are relatively slight, suggesting perhaps that there has been insufficient time for subspecies-level genetic adaptation to be established and that tiger populations and subspecies do not necessarily have to be managed in isolation." 

 

Our Spiritual Reserves

 

Bonnie believes that the experience of viewing the amazing beauty of a white tiger gives us all a wake-up call on the depletion of our diversity.  She is outraged at the critics that would have the white tiger banished from captivity.  "In spite of their early inbreeding history, private breeding programs have brought us new color variations; the rare snow white tiger that lacks any striping, and the beautiful tabby tiger with its dark orange stripes against an orange and white back round. These new color variations exist today and many are perfect specimens showing no genetic defects. These amazing cats delight audiences at educational shows and magic acts, theme parks and private zoological facilities.  Emphasis on producing the white tiger in private facilities has mixed this white gene with much of the country's orange population, preserving this phenotype so that future generations can enjoy them."  

 

Bonnie reminds us that extinction is forever. "I don't want to think of a future where our white tiger is viewed only in a picture book. AZA has chosen to implement a policy of extinction of this gene pool in their collections. It is up to those of us in the private sector to carefully breed our white tigers for genetic diversity to help insure that our children, and our children's children have the opportunity to see one of the greatest wonders of nature - the white color variation of the Bengal tiger. This is conservation of one of the planet's most spectacular inhabitants. Yes, it is true that this cub that lay upon my lap, and his progeny will probably never grace the wild's of India, but his presence in our human society brings joy and wonder and a profound appreciation for the beauty of nature and the variety of life that will translate into an ethic that values wildness and wild places as biological and spiritual reserves that must be protected and preserved forever."

 

Special thanks to the following people for providing information for this article:  A.K. Roychoudhury, G.C. Banerjee, R. Poddar, Abhay Kunj, Gene Schmitt, Lindsey Phillips, DMV, Bonnie Ringo, Josip Marcan, Baghavan Antel, Pat Callahan, Warren E. Johnson,

 

( http://www.felineconservation.org/species/Whitetigers.asp?key=38 )
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