EVENT DATE: Jul 10, 2017
If you know anything about me, you know I love tigers.
I could make up a lot of reasons for why I adore tigers -- they're majestic, they're beautiful, they're really fuzzy -- but to be honest, I couldn't pinpoint just one thing. Maybe it has something to with Calvin & Hobbes (my favorite comic strip), or maybe because I can find similarities in our temperaments (largely solitary, enthusiastic swimmers, and incredibly stealthy) (ok, maybe I'm not so much that last part). Maybe there are just too many reasons not to love tigers.
In any case, though, these majestic, fuzzy, beautiful creatures need our help. Even though the world population number has risen (3,900 as of April 2016!), tigers still face threats to their habitats and livelihoods. And this number is still ridiculously low -- tigers as a whole are classified as "Endangered," with 3 of the 6 existing subspecies of tigers classified as "Critically Endangered." Three subspecies of tigers are entirely extinct. This terrifies me -- tigers should not be something we can only expect to see in a zoo. According to the World Wildlife Fund, poaching is the most immediate threat to wild tigers and at unprecedented levels worldwide. And the tiger's territorial nature means that they need large spaces in forests to survive, grow, and thrive. Overhunting and human-tiger conflict are also contributing to the tiger's population decline.
This year I'm donating my birthday to Panthera to help tigers out. Panthera's Tigers Forever program targets increasing tiger numbers by at least 50% over a ten-year period with a variety of methods, including identifying and protecting tiger habitats, poaching prevention, and training government and NGO staff to monitor tiger and prey populations. These efforts are being carried out in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, and Thailand, and approach tiger conservation in a comprehensive, top-down strategy. And saving tigers has reciprocal effects to the environment and communities around them -- as an umbrella species, tigers' conservation efforts also help conserve many other species in the same area.
As WWF puts it, "By protecting tigers, we are protecting forests – which ultimately benefits us all." This year, help me make a difference for this endangered species and for our environment.