Awely des tigres et des hommes Tigers and People

What would be the impact if the tiger disappeared?

20 November 2015

Thousands of animal and plant species disappear each year. However, it’s not possible to determine the exact number because we only know about a small proportion of the species living on our planet, and this figure evolves constantly. In addition, the extinction of a single species can lead to the disappearance of others and to the destabilisation of entire ecosystems.

The tiger, in particular, is a super predator. It is at the very top of its food chain. This means that the animal has no natural predators (despite being threatened by humans). If the feline were to disappear, there would be consequences for all the links of this chain, with the effects even influencing plants and in some areas, people (multiplication of “prey” herbivores, overgrazing, proliferation of some parasites, possible spreading of epidemics, and disappearance of new species…).

Whilst the disappearance of the feline would eliminate, de facto, human-tiger conflicts, new kind of conflicts could emerge, especially with the animal’s prey, which would be present in larger numbers due to a lack of predation. Moreover, after such an event, many years of study would be necessary to evaluate the impact on other species and on humans. It is likely that the destabilising effects could never be completely understood, because there would be too many different and interconnected variables to be taken into account.

Nonetheless, it’s important to limit the impact of tiger extinction on the planet. There were 100,000 tigers in the wild a century ago and today there are as few as 4000 — a decrease that is largely due to trophy hunting during the colonial period. Therefore, the repercussions of the tiger’s disappearance from nature have almost certainly already occurred. This means that the challenge of safeguarding the species could now be considered as being essentially a question of ethics.

Currently, humans run the risk of being responsible for the tiger’s extinction, through actions such as poaching and the use of tiger-parts in Chinese traditional medicine. This would mean that future generations’ experience of this majestic feline would be limited to viewing archived information (as is already the case for Bali, Caspian and Javan tigers and as for many other species).

On the other hand, the tiger is a very important animal in Asian cultures; it is extremely symbolic and highly represented in different artistic forms. Its disappearance would be a huge cultural loss. The feline is also one of the species that is most appreciated by the general public. Finally, conservation efforts for the animal work, in parallel, for the protection of many other species that share the same habitat.

Let’s ask ourselves before it’s too late: do we want to live in a world without tigers? If, like us, you want to protect this emblematic feline, support our actions with a donation. Indeed, it’s also thanks to your support that we are able to work for the safeguarding of the species on the field in Nepal, in India, in Bangladesh and in Vietnam.

Thank you for your generosity.

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