Sunday 19 December 2021

Dams are damaging the conservation of the tiger

It is ironic that hydroelectric power through the building of dams is seen as ecologically friendly as they ostensibly help prevent global warming but at the same time they are ecologically damaging. This is because huge areas of tiger habitat are flooded. This removes habitat from the tiger. Habitat loss is the biggest problem in the conservation of the tiger. 

Dam on the Narmada River in India. Photo in public domain. You can see the tiger habitat around it.
Dam on the Narmada River in India. Photo in public domain. You can see the tiger habitat around it.

There is constant pressure on tiger habitat which is being gradually destroyed. It is all about increased human activity including deforestation, the building of settlements, mining, the removal of forests to build plantations to create products to sell on the international market. The building of dams adds to that problem.

A study found that 164 dams affect the habitat of the jaguar and 421 dams have eroded tiger habitats. They say that one in five tigers are affected by dams. Tiger numbers are already precariously low at around 3500 total in the world, in the wild.

And as dams destroy forest, they are contributing to global warming because forests remove carbon dioxide from the air, a global warming gas. There are other issues. 

RELATED: 5 reasons why the tiger is endangered

Rivers pass through many countries. If the country at the top of the river, at the source, builds a dam countries further down don't get their water. And as human settlements increase there is more demand for water. Industrialisation creates an increased demand for water. 

There is a big problem building up along the Nile. There is a long-running dispute between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over a massive hydroelectric dam which is at the heart of Ethiopia's manufacturing and industrial dreams.

RELATED: Indian Bengal Tiger Reserves

Note: This is a video from another website which is embedded here. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.

Tigers and jaguars need large areas in which to live. Their home ranges are enormous. Adult males in India can have home ranges 15 times larger than those of females. An female home ranges can be up to around 50 km². Arguably, India's reserves are already too small and they're being gradually eroded because of a continually increasing human population in India.

As human population grows there is a commensurate need for more energy, more power which puts pressure on governments to build more dams which in turn destroys tiger habitat at least potentially. It's a vicious cycle. It starts with human population growth. That is the root cause of pretty well all conservation problems.

Conservationists are going to have to try and compensate tigers for the loss of their habitat by providing additional protected areas. This is highly unlikely. Dams are contributing to the gradual and almost inevitable extinction of the tiger in the wild.

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