International Tiger Day (or World Tiger Day) is sometimes referred to as the Global Tiger Day and is an annual event organised to raise awareness about the importance of tiger conservation. It is held every year on the 29th of July. NGOs, government organisations and ordinary citizens from every nook and corner of the world organise awareness programmes on this day to spread the significance of protecting the tiger.
Tiger Day was first started and celebrated in the year, 2010 at the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit and was conceptualised when experts realised that tigers were very close to extinction. Many animal welfare organisations came forward to pledge the protection of these beautiful creatures by helping to raise funds. The main aim of celebrating Tiger Day is to make sure that the protection and expansion of wild tiger habitats is promoted well. And this can happen only with the right awareness for tiger conservation.
Many factors have caused tigers to dwindle, including habitat loss, climate change, hunting and poaching. Hence, by celebrating Tiger Day on July 29, it aims to protect and expand their habitats and raise awareness of the need for conservation.
From ancient times, the tiger has been the subject of constant attraction for their beauty and size and sometimes mythical stories are associated with it. Man’s fascination with the tiger is evident from the fact that the tiger is still a part of many national symbols and flags. In India, the tiger is the National Animal. The images of tigers are also seen in many prehistoric cave carvings and it is even worshipped in some countries of the world. The tiger is the largest cat species with dark vertical stripes on beautiful red-orange fur. They are predators by nature and hunt on animals like deer, snakes, monkeys, rabbits and buffaloes. But unfortunately, the tiger population in this world is fast dwindling. Every part of the tiger from the tail to the skin to the nail is traded in the illegal market for very high values, which makes tigers vulnerable to poaching, one of the key threat to their existence. In some instances, they are also caught and raised as pets. 97 per cent of the world tiger population perished in the last one hundred years and according to the latest statistics, only 3,890 tigers are left in this world, out of which 2,226 are in India.
Destruction of tiger population is very much symbolic and is also a glaring indicator of the massive deforestation happening across the world. If tigers get extinct from our forests completely, we will not only lose a species that is essential to many ecosystems, but it also means that enough forest habitats have been destroyed which can endanger many other animal species.
For us, tigers are the symbol of wildlife’s fight for survival. It reminds us about the imminent dangers we face because of man’s greed and over exploitation of our Mother Nature. Hence, it is an opportunity as well. Many efforts are being made to double the tiger population by the year, 2022. Most tiger reserves across the world are now declared as protected and are heavily guarded. Strict national and international laws are in place against poaching and trading of tiger parts. As a result, the number of tigers in the wild rises for the first time in more than hundred years. Even though this is a marginal increase, it is a huge symbolic victory in our efforts against the destruction of forests and wildlife. It is therefore very important that we join together in this effort not only to save our tigers but to also save our forests and its precious inhabitants. The scientific name for a tiger is Panthera tigris.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)