Thursday 19 August 2021

The empty, hollow pledges by governments to increase wild tiger populations

I'm told that in 2010 ministers from the governments of 13 countries in south-east Asia made a pledge to implement measures to double the wild population of tigers by 2022. That was impossible and they probably realised it when they made the commitment. And this is the way it has transpired.

Tiger in a reserve in India
Bengal tiger in reserve in India. Photo in public domain.

It is now reported that in south-east Asia it is highly unlikely that this goal will be met. I would go a step further and say that it will not be met. In fact, the numbers of tigers will go down and they will consistently go down into the indefinite future. There is no question in my mind about that.

It is said that tigers have become extinct in the recent past in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Wild tiger populations over the past 20 years have shrunk in Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia and to a lesser extent in Thailand.

Occasionally politicians try to present an optimistic viewpoint about tiger populations in the wild. They say that there has been a new count of tigers and declare to the world that the numbers have gone up. This simply isn't true. They've just changed the way they count tigers which results in a slightly higher figure but the truth of the matter is that the numbers are going down and the main reason is always the same: habitat loss due to human population growth resulting in more commercial activity which destroys the habitat.


There are other reasons such as retaliatory killings but the bottom line is that the tiger is being squeezed out of their historical range; the place where they live. The human population is consistently expanding in Asia and Africa. Nothing is being done to curb this in the interests of wildlife conservation.

It is actually worse than that; the governments of these countries need to expand their human population to expand their economic growth. A country can't earn more money with less people because they need the workforce. That is why Germany allowed 1 million illegal immigrants into the country because at that time native Germans were not having families and they were looking at a shrinking workforce which would damage their economic growth.

This fundamental economic model demanding growth has to be changed to a new one which demands sustainability and stability in human population numbers. And then there should be gradual shrinkage with a parallel increase in habitat for wild species including the precious tiger.

Postscript: I have to mention, as an afterthought, another major reason why tigers are dying out in the wild and it is this; China's greed for tiger body parts which means that they are poached in the wild or they are farmed in China. When you farm tigers, you totally devalue the animal to the point where they become livestock. There is no possibility that you can have a proper attitude towards conservation if you are treating the animal concerned as livestock. That is common sense. So poaching is a massive problem thanks to China.

And apparently in Vietnam they snare animals and there are 12 million snares dotted around the countryside which sometimes trapped tigers and kill them. There are countless other reasons but they all boil down to one thing: human behaviour in all its guises. I suppose that's obvious but it seems that we have to state it because very little is done by the conservationist to change fundamental human behaviour which conflicts with the conservation of the tiger.

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