Article by Colonel Nogov on Oct. 10, 2015
There are only approximately 3,200 tigers left in the wild today according to conservation groups. 100 years ago there were 100,000.
The dramatic decrease is due to a number of factors. The two main reasons is the conflict between humans and tigers when territories collide and tiger products are highly sought after black market items.
Conservation groups claim within a couple decades tigers will be extinct.
I personally would hate to see tigers become extinct, and for this reason I do not support conservation groups because they, currently, do more harm than good.
There is a bright spot for tiger conservation. This bright spot is looked upon as a scourge by conservation groups.
In the U.S., there are between 5,000 and 20,000 tigers owned by private citizens(the wide range is due to different conservation groups all give different estimates). These are non-zoo, non-“professional” owners. Read this next line very carefully tiger conservationists.
Private ownership of tigers is literally saving the species from extinction.
This is your stated goal –saving the species– yet you discourage the private ownership of tigers. There are not enough zoos and “professional” owners of tigers to breed and maintain a population. The gene pool needs to be large enough to prevent the problems associated with in breeding. The wild population will be gone shortly.
You’ve been trying for just longer than forever to prevent the wild population from declining and you are failing miserably. Your only strategy, thus far, is raising awareness and having governments write legislation against poaching and trafficking tigers and tiger products. Governments cannot save the tigers. Government have been shown over and over again to be complete failures at saving wildlife species. Governments have been waging wars against black markets with zero success.
Having governments wage a war against private ownership of tigers and black markets is accelerating the extinction of the species, not slowing it down.
There are problems associated with private ownership of tigers. You point them out, so I’ll point them out. Sometimes privately owned tigers attack people. People get injured or even killed. Siegfried and Roy found this out. According to conservationists since 1990 22 people have been killed and 500 seriously injured in tiger attacks from privately owned tigers. Let’s compare that to private swimming pools. There are 650 deaths each year in the U.S. from swimming pool drownings and 4900 non-fatal injuries but requiring emergency room visits. Using the 1990 starting point, there has been 16,250 swimming pool deaths and 122,500 emergency room injuries. It sounds crazy, but it is far more dangerous to have a swimming pool in your back yard than a tiger. Obviously, there are far more swimming pools than tigers, but the point is the same. Life is filled with dangers. Life is filled with choices.
Your graphic (posted below) shows you are ignorant of basic economics and the world in general. “Tiger farm operators” are slowing the rate of extinction not speeding it up. You write, “The commercial breeders of captive tigers who raise tigers for their parts and who are fueling demand for tiger products.” Supply does not fuel demand. Demand fuels supply. It makes not difference how much supply of something there is if there is no demand for it. Because there is a demand for tiger products, farmers are breeding them to supply that demand. As ghoulish as it sounds, humans farm lots of animals for different purposes. This tiger farming is slowing the rate of extinction and slowing the rate of wild tigers being killed. I know you desperately want there to be the option that there was no demand for tiger products, but the facts are is that there is. Wishing for something not to be is not a very effective strategy.
I find human consumption of tiger products repulsive, but if I take an honest look at myself, it’s probably because of the culture I was raised in. I don’t have the same repulsive thoughts towards farmed cows, chickens, or pigs, or wild game such as deer, elk, pheasant, turkey, and bear. Bear jerky is especially delicious. Ultimately it is not unethical or immoral to kill animals for human consumption. (I know there are lots of people who will disagree with this, I’ll do a future article on why)
Governments are a problem, but not in the way you’ve described. My suggestion to conservation groups is to do the exact opposite of what you are currently doing. Instead of asking governments to write more legislation criminalizing tiger products and banning private ownership of tigers, ask governments to decriminalize the raising and private ownership of tigers and trading of tiger products. It will increase the population of the species as a whole and it will increase the population of the wild tigers as well. When there is a high demand for something and a low supply, prices rise. When there is a high supply of something relative to the demand, prices fall. Falling prices will have two major effects. The first is that tiger products will no longer be seen as status symbols. If everyone has a tiger pelt, it’s no longer a symbol of wealth and status. The second and more important effect is tigers will have less value. When a poacher thinks of killing or capturing a wild tiger, he has dollar signs in his eyes. I don’t know the current value of a tiger, but I imagine it’s somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000(sporadic black market prices posted below). That’s a big incentive to take the risk of killing or capturing a wild tiger to sell it off on the black market. If tigers were breed to the point where a tiger was worth about as much as a cow, around $1,000, it’s no longer worth it to go and kill or capture a wild tiger. That’s a lot of work for little reward and no guarantees because the supply, and therefore competition, is so high, one may end up with zero for the effort.
Conservationists, use your knowledge to help farmers and private owners in feeding, handling, and caring for tigers. Shine a light on the farmers and private owners who are mistreating the animals. Take this not to governments, but to the public. The public will punish people who are treating animals cruelly and inhumanely.
To save the tigers, legalize the black market.