For avid animal lovers, seeing the magnificent Panthera tigris in the wild can be one of their most memorable life experiences. The chance to embark on a dedicated Tiger watching tour to the reserves of the Indian subcontinent provides the privileged opportunity to observe these incredible animals in their natural environment. Tiger watching tours not only afford participants a once in a lifetime experience, they also serve to raise awareness of the big catâ€™s very real conservation issues.
Itâ€™s an alarming but true statistic that more than 95% of the big catâ€™s population around the world has been lost since the beginning of the twentieth century. While conservation efforts from organisations like the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) are slowly turning the tide of their decline, with a current global head count of just 3,900, there is still much to be done in order to restore their wild populations to anywhere near previous numbers.
A Day to Raise Global Awareness
Global (aka International) Tiger Day, held annually on July 29th, was created in an effort to bring the plight of the big cat to the attention of governments, and to: â€œstrengthen anti-poaching efforts and reinforce investment in rangers, in order to halt the crisis and safeguard the animal from poachers.â€
The day was established in 2010 (in the Chinese Year of the Tiger) at the St Petersburg Summit, with the aim of promoting the protection and conservation of the big cat and its habitats around the world. The ambitious plan is to double their population by 2022 – the next Year of the Tiger.
Since then, the concept has gone from strength to strength. It has been celebrated with local events in countries all over the planet, including India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and even the UK and America. The WWF has partnered with big name corporations to promote the day, and celebrities have lent their names to the cause by removing their profile pictures from social media platforms in order to raise awareness.
The initiative is now at its halfway point and, while numbers are on the rise, the animal is still at great risk from poachers and habitat encroachment. Anti-poaching Units have been established to combat the problem and, in Sumatra (as an example) the country has seen the lowest number of snares set since 2008. Through continued fund raising and alliances, the project is making great inroads into raising awareness around the globe.
How to Help
As an internationally focused initiative, there are countless ways ordinary people can do their part to help. As well as simply donating to any one of the official funds, there is a huge range of merchandise that can be purchased to mark the day. Private fundraising efforts can be set up, with the support of the official body through sponsorship and fundraising packs. Anyone from individuals, to school groups and corporates can get involved, with full transparency on how the funds are distributed.
Become Part of the Solution
By participating in responsible eco-tourism on Tiger watching tours and becoming involved in initiatives like Global Tiger Day, we can all take responsibility to get involved in the efforts to re-establish the wild populations of this irreplaceable big cat.
Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance nature writer with a special interest in Tiger watching. Being passionate about her subject, Marissa chooses the expert-led wildlife holidays organised by Naturetrek, which have brought her unforgettable sightings of a wide range of wildlife in some of the most spectacular regions on Earth.
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