Tigers – Oh My! *Videos*
We recently went on a tiger safari in India’s Ranthambore National Park. It was a cold, foggy morning and we didn’t expect to see any tigers about – but then we did! We were extremely lucky since tiger sightings during winter (and increasingly in Ranthambore) are rare.
We watched the female tiger (named 3-39) walk in the woods and road in Zone 2 for nearly 30 minutes – an incredibly long time! Check out these videos of her strolling along (and spraying her territory) and regurgitating. Cool!
Can’t see this video? Click on this link: Tiger Walking
Can’t see this video? Click on this link: Tiger Regurgitating
The World Wildlife Fund estimates the global wild tiger population to be about 3,200, of which India has the most tigers at an estimated 1,706. Other countries with large populations include Malaysia at 500, Russian at 360 and Indonesia at 325.
Tigers weigh about 135-230 kilograms (between 300-500 lbs.). Their stripes and unique to each tiger, just like finger prints.
Ranthambore, one of India’s most famous national parks, straddles the Vindhya Plateau and the Aravalli Mountains. The park is divided into 5 zones and is home to about 30 tigers.
Traffic into the park is highly regulated. Only 20 jeeps are allowed in at any one time and no private vehicles are allowed. Each jeep is given a zone via a lottery system by forestry officials (supposedly open to bribes) and jeeps must stay within their zone.
The best zones for viewing are Zones 2 and 3. Zone 1 is to be avoided. The best time to see tigers is during the hot months of March through to June, when they come out to find water.
Supposedly the best places to see tigers in the wild in India is in Bandhavgard National Park. With the highest concentration of tigers at any park in India, a sighting is almost guaranteed. Kanha National Park also offers a good chance to see a tiger.
Tigers in the wild are increasingly rare. Dangers include habitat fragmentation, encroachment (land development), and poaching. Asian medicine (tiger bones are thought to be an aphrodisiac or to help manage pain) has driven the tiger population to near-extinction.
A tiger can be poached for as little as US$60. Poison (costing less than US$1) and steel traps (costing US$9) are most often used to kill the animals. In 2011, an estimated 13 tigers in India were poached.
Our guide told us the penalty for tiger poaching is life in prison, but web research shows that poachers receive a maximum sentence of 7 years and a US$10,000 fine (per India’s Wild Life Protection Act of 1972.) Only 16 people have ever been convicted of tiger poaching.
Over the last 2 years, body parts of 43 tigers and 365 leopards have been seized. As recently as January 17, 2012, a poacher was caught with 9 kg of tiger bones, 18 tiger claws, three canine teeth, and tiger’s whiskers from the Kotabagh area near Ramnagar. Infuriating!
Save the Tiger!
There are a number of organizations dedicated to saving India tigers. Here’s how you can help:
- Make a Donation: You can make online donations to the Wildlife Protection Society in India. For U.S. donors, you can make a tax-deductible donations through Charities Aid Foundation America (CAF America), designating your grant to the “Wildlife Protection Society of India.” You can also donate through the World Wildlife Foundation / India to Protect the Tigers Fund.
- Create Awareness: Once you are armed with knowledge, spread the word to your friends, family and community leaders.
- Take Action: Organize an event, write letters or stage an exhibition in your neighborhood.
- Stay Informed: Be aware of the plight of India’s tigers and stay in touch by subscribing to local wildlife organizations.
- Make a Career: Choose wildlife conservation as your career! The expansion of the conservation movement sees the need for people from all sectors, such as lawyers, computer operators, designers etc.
- Volunteer: Volunteer with an environmental/wildlife NGO.
This entry was posted on Monday, January 23rd, 2012 and is filed under Asia Pacific.