Extinction of Bengal tiger

April 26, 2023, 11:41 a.m.

The Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) is the most well-known of all the tigers and is also called the “Indian tiger”or the “Royal Bengal tiger”. The endangered Bengal tiger, together with the now extinct Caspian tiger and the critically endangered Siberian tiger, is one of the largest cats that has ever existed. With a population estimated less than 2,200 individuals, they are the most numerous of all remaining tiger subspecies in the wild.

Over the last 30 years, the world’s tiger population has seen a 50 percent decline. The Bengal tiger has not gone extinct. Even though their population is declining quickly, they still exist in the wild today.

Unfortunately, it is not only the Bengal tiger population which faces adversity. All tigers are endangered. In fact, the Bengal tiger is the most numerous of all tiger subspecies. However, it is under constant threat of poaching. Tiger preserves, sanctuaries, and national parks have stabilized the population numbers, but poaching in Asia is still on the rise. Tiger hides are very expensive and much sought after.

The major threat to tigers around the world, including Bengal tigers, is poaching and illegal killing.

One of the most beautiful and iconic animals to walk the Earth, Bengal tigers are both regal and rare. They’re one of the biggest cat species in the world. The Bengal tiger is the second largest subspecies of tiger after the Siberian tiger. It has the characteristic tiger coat of orange with black stripes. The Bengal subspecies also carries the rare white tiger gene. These “white tigers” are born with a white coat and blue eyes due to a genetic mutation.

Habitat loss, prey depletion, poaching and human-wildlife conflicts are the major causes of population decline of tigers in the wild. As they need large areas to support viable populations, the rapid development and growing population of Asia poses a huge threat to their survival. Pressure from commercial logging, and the expansion of agriculture and human settlements into forest landscapes contribute to the loss of tiger habitats and human-wildlife conflict. Infrastructure development including fences, roads and dams can further pose barriers to their movement and restrict their ability to find suitable habitat and food.

These areas are not connected to larger tiger conservation landscapes and are under immense pressure from mining, infrastructure development (for example for the construction of power lines) and the expansion of livestock grazing. This disturbance and the development of roads causes fragmentation of tiger habitat, cutting off gene exchange and isolating tigers into unsustainably small and isolated populations. It is the same story for tigers in Nepal, where habitat loss and fragmentation plus poaching are the major challenges for tiger conservation.

Tigers, as solitary hunters, need very large wild territories to roam. However, tiger habitat is still being lost to deforestation and development. In India today, it is estimated that 1000 Bengal tigers live outside of officially protected areas.

Another emerging threat is climate change, which may result in changes to the physical environment, including geographical and altitudinal range shifts in habitat extent, and impact the seasonality and rates of climate-related hazards including heatwaves, wildfires, droughts, cyclones and floods which may adversely affect tigers and their habitats. For example, seasonal water scarcity in some areas of Bhutan is forcing tigers to move closer to human settlements, increasing the danger of human-wildlife conflicts. Human responses to climate change may also contribute to such conflicts, therefore, the Vanishing Treasures programme is working together with local communities to find solutions to these problems. For instance, the provision of low-voltage electric fencing for agricultural land can protect cattle and reduce tension between humans and tigers.

The Bengal tiger and its habitat, particularly the unique population living in the coastal Sundarbans, is also threatened by climate change. Sea-level rise threatens to submerge tiger habitat and push the tigers further inland towards human settlements and conflict. Climate change will also warm inland forests, negatively impacting and changing the flora that the tigers’ prey depends upon.

Many grasslands are now turning into shrub and forest landscapes, reducing food availability for ungulates. While tigers are generalists and can live in a variety of landscape types, they are highly dependent on the availability of these ungulates as prey, meaning that this interlinkage of societal and climatic changes are indirectly impacting the tigers´ livelihood.

More people are moving into jungle regions and encroaching on tiger territory. It’s terrible for the subcontinent’s cat population.

Poaching and habitat destruction, which cause population fragmentation, are the main threats to these tigers. It remains a huge problem. A thriving and lucrative black market for skins and body parts — which pays a year’s salary for one kill — unfortunately encourages people to break the laws and hunt tigers.

Conservation efforts are not working, and they’re not outpacing the poaching, deforestation, and human encroachment that has devastated wild tiger habitats over the past 50 years.

We may have seen many tigers in our life, but no two tigers have similar strip patterns. Every tiger on earth has a distinct striped pattern which makes them different from other tigers and makes it easy in counting them during the tiger census.

A century ago, there were more than 100,000 Bengal tigers in the wild. Today, the population has dwindled to around 2,200, isolated in ever-shrinking habitats.

In the decades ahead, Bengal tigers entirely disappear from the wild because of sea level rise, climate change, extreme weather, and poaching, according to a new international research.

The population of the Bengal tiger is less than 2,200 individuals, with the prospect of reduction. The Bengal tiger is one of the most endangered species in the world.

Bengal tigers are excellent hunters, capable of taking down prey as large as water buffalo. They are also excellent swimmers and are often seen lounging in rivers and streams during the hot summer months. Despite their impressive strength and agility, Bengal tigers are also playful and affectionate with their young.

Bengal tigers have a heavy, somewhat stocky build and their round face is framed by short, thick fur. Bengal tigers vary in color from rich orange to light yellow with stripes that vary from pale gray to deep black.

The majority of Bengal tigers are found in India, but their range also extends into Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar. The greatest numbers of these tigers are in scattered locations in India.

Formerly, the range of this tiger included nearly all of the subcontinent and the entirety of Bangladesh and Bhutan, and most of Nepal and Myanmar. The tiger population was found in the Sundarbans mangrove swamp between India and Bangladesh.

The combined threats of poaching, urbanization, habitat loss, and global warming has caused India to lose 98% of its Bengal Tiger population in the last century. National parks, preserves, and sanctuaries have been able to stabilize the tiger population, but the concerns still loom. Protecting the cultural symbol of India, the grand Bengal Tiger, can start with preserving its habitat, the mangrove forests.

Around Bangladesh, sea levels are rising faster than the global average, causing the mangrove forests where the Bengal tigers roam to become flooded with salt water that destroys wildlife.

Sea level rise is also pushing the tigers further inland, where they may not be able to find suitable habitat, or where they come into contact with humans who often kill them.

Extreme weather tied to climate change is also negatively affecting the tigers, depriving them of habitat and harming their sources of food.

Another major problem is ongoing deforestation and resource exploitation that impacts the tiger’s habitat.

If the tigers disappear, it would have repercussions on the broader ecosystem in the region. As a top predator, Bengal tigers help to balance keep other animal populations in check, creating balance throughout the food chain, and help plants spread their seeds.

What do you think should be done already today to ensure the survival of a unique felid species?

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