Undeveloped Land Vital to Tiger’s Survival

By Jessie Shier.

This material is copyrighted, ©️JShier, 2012, all rights reserved.

Tigers are solitary animals that breed all year round, so they need access to each other’s territory to ensure the survival of the species.  This access should be via undisturbed routes.  It has been suggested that the tiger population would triple if their habitats were connected by undeveloped corridors of wilderness to help distant tigers find mates.  The more habitats that are connected via various routes, the wider the genetic pool and so the stronger the overall population will be.

Bengal tigers in India, living in four different populations, are using corridors of wilderness to find mates and are therefore enabling their genetic diversity. 

The corridors enable the tigers to withstand environmental changes as well as access to other territories and food sources, helping them to survive as individuals and as a population.

In India, a network of parks are connected by pathways and this enables a healthy population of around 300 tigers to thrive there.  Conversely, in Sariska and Panna, tigers were wiped out because of the activities of poachers and they could not return to the areas because there were no connecting routes between their habitats.  No tigers have been seen in these areas since 2009.

The unprotected status of the tiger’s corridors pose a new threat to their survival.

These vital corridors of wilderness have no legal protection and are subject to development.  If they are developed, the connections between populations will be lost, along with the tiger’s hope of finding a suitable mate and propagating its species.  Only tigers in the populations connected by the corridors are maintaining similar levels of gene flow to that seen historically in ancient, strong tiger populations.  The populations that have lost the use of their corridors show significantly decreased gene flow.  This poses a threat to the genetic viability of the populations and therefore their longevity. 

Currently tigers are an endangered species.  They are prey to poachers and are vulnerable to habitat loss.  Their survival as a species depends on distant populations and individuals being able to access neighbouring habitats undisturbed.

The jaguar and other big cats are threatened by the same issues that plague the tiger.

Greenpeace claim that Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL), a pulp and paper company that uses wood from Asia’s forests to supply its demand, has removed itself from the Forest Stewardship Council to avoid an enquiry into its deforestation practices in Indonesia

APRIL is based in Singapore and is a leading pulp, paper and fibre manufacturer and one of the world’s largest producers of bleached hardwood Kraft pulp.  Its products are used in over 75 countries around the world in paper, tissues, bags and magazines, to name a few.  The company is now the largest driver of deforestation for pulp in Indonesia and has now pulled out of the Forest Stewardship Council, the only international body in place to protect the world’s forests.

Tigers currently live across 13 Asian countries, but their population numbers are estimated to be as low as 3,200.  Habitat loss, poaching and loss of prey to human hunters are the main reasons for their demise.  The habitat loss has been due to extensive deforestation.  People have destroyed the forests in order to build roads and use the land for agriculture as well as large companies using the wood for their products, to sell internationally.  If the corridors of wilderness are not preserved between tiger’s increasingly fragmented habitats, along with continued poaching and habitat loss, their chances for survival are reduced to a point which could take them to extinction within 20-30 years.


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