Helping Save The Tiger
Posted on 30 Aug 2023
"You may, if you like, free a tiger from his bars; but do not free him from his stripes." - Gilbert K. Chesterton
The Wild Tiger is one of the world’s most enigmatic, evocative and unfortunately, most endangered of the world’s species. The effects of global warming and changing ecosystems have made survival increasingly difficult for this beautiful animal. Tigers have been in existence for about two million years, however in just the last 150 years, their population has dwindled by nearly 95%, with an estimated 3,900 tigers left in the wild today. An interesting thought is that there are more tigers kept in captivity in the USA, than there are in the wild globally.
Although poaching has posed a significant threat to the number of tigers in the wild, the largest threat has come from climate change, and the destruction of the natural environment where tigers have survived for centuries.
The Bandhavgarh region of India has seen increased levels of drought in recent years. Normally, the seasonal monsoons that occurred during the hottest months would naturally suppress any wildfires. However, with erratic rainfall and unseasonably high temperatures, forest fires have been more prevalent, and increasingly challenging for the local authorities to effectively manage. The forest fires that engulfed the region in 2021 devastated between a third and half of pristine tiger habitat, with over 35000 other animals also being affected.
This has jeopardized the natural regeneration of the forest as small animals like birds, insects, and reptiles play a huge role in maintaining the forest through seed dispersal and pollination. In addition to the increasing number of forest fires, the lack of water has reduced vegetation, and the natural shade that protects the wild tigers during the hottest periods of the year.
The Siberian tiger is the biggest and most powerful species of the Felidae family. On average, it is four to eight cm taller than a Bengal tiger and has longer and thicker fur, helping it survive in some of the harshest and coldest of environments.
Rising temperatures have triggered the melting of glaciers and the shrinking of ice-covered territories. In Siberia, tigers must travel greater distances to find food, further depleting their already dwindling energy reserves. In the 1990s, the severity of the situation was so great that the Siberian tiger nearly faced extinction, and had been categorized as a Critically Endangered animal. Thankfully, through the efforts of wildlife conservation in Russia, organizations such as WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) and Russia’s Siberian Tiger Project have significantly increased the numbers. Although still endangered, the increase in numbers is encouraging, giving hope for the future of tigers in the area.
The Human Factor
Although there are a number of effective conservation organizations, the effect of human intervention can still be seen as a threat to this, and indeed other endangered species.
As natural habitats shrink, tigers are forced to hunt closer to human settlements, increasing the likelihood of human-wildlife conflicts. Through their survival instinct, tigers may encroach on farmlands or even hunt livestock, leading to retaliatory killings by frustrated villagers. Invasive species also pose a threat to wild tiger populations close to human settlements, for example wild dogs might hunt tiger cubs.
Rising Sea Levels
Climate change has led to the melting of ice caps, causing sea levels to rise and threatening low-lying coastal areas. Sundarbans, an area that lies between India and Bangladesh is home to the famous Bengal Tiger. This important area provides a vital habitat, but also faces a growing impact of flooding. The mangrove forests, an essential refuge for tigers, are experiencing the threat of encroaching waters, making the survival of wild tigers increasingly difficult.
How OpenWeather can, and is helping
OpenWeather is working with the WWF to adopt a tiger, and help support their work in restoring the habitats and ecosystems that wild tigers rely upon, as well as working with governments in building a sustainable future for both humans and animals.
The wide range of OpenWeather products can also be used by conservation organizations, governments and individuals to help prevent the loss of natural habitats.
For example, our Fire Weather Index product is designed to help users estimate current and forecast forest fire danger, and reduce the risk of the incredibly damaging effect of this increasingly common phenomenon. This gives a rating for the potential frontal fire intensity by combining the rate of fire spread, the amount of fuel being consumed and the prevailing weather and ground conditions.
As the loss of the natural habitat of the wild tiger is closely related to climate change, organizations, such as the WWF, focus much of their efforts on energy conservation and sustainability. Solar energy is becoming increasingly important for a wide range of uses due to its flexibility, ease of installation and simplicity. Our Solar Irradiance & Energy Prediction service helps solar energy users predict the energy generated by a particular solar panel before installation, or check for potential issues with the existing panels. This understanding of the potential energy generation levels for a proposed site can help with planning and financing of the installation.
The future of the wild tiger is becoming brighter, the sustained efforts of wildlife preservation societies, and greater understanding of their varied habitats is helping safeguard this wonderful force of nature.
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