Tigers are one of the Earth’s most endangered species. At the beginning of this century there were about 100,000 wild tigers. Today there are less than 5,000 of these beautiful creatures alive, making tigers one of the world’s fastest disappearing species.
Two weeks ago a very rare tiger was killed by poachers on the Indo-Nepal border, according to wildlife officials. The adult male tiger’s body was found last week, approximately June 1, 2011. A WWF survey carried out in 2008 found just 121 adult tigers of breeding age in Nepal, so this is a real tragedy.
According to Tikaram Adhikari, a warden at Bardia National Park in Nepal, the endangered tiger was last traced by the tracking system on May 9. The next two days, we could not locate the tiger. Then, early this week, we found that he had been killed by poachers,” he said. The tiger had been named Namobuddha by park authorities.
“The tiger was moving towards human settlements. After seeing the tiger, the poachers offered him poisoned beef. It died after consuming the food… Four locals have been arrested on suspicion of poaching,” Adhikari said.
The tiger had been originally captured by wildlife officials a couple years ago in Nepal. The rare animal was fitted with a GPS tracking system and then released into the Bardia national park. Wildlife workers thought this would be an ideal home for the tiger because it of its vast size, available prey and relatively low levels of poaching, authorities said.
“Using the tracking system we were hoping to gain valuable insights into its movement and habitat. But after this incident we feel that saving wild tigers will be more challenging,” Adhikari said.
The project was part of Nepal’s efforts to double its population of Royal Bengal tigers, which once roamed the country’s southern plains in large numbers but have been depleted due to poaching.
Even though it’s illegal to kill a tiger, people are still doing it. Why? Because every part of a dead tiger is valuable (more valuable than a live tiger in the eyes of poachers). A tiger’s coat sells for as much as $20,000 on the black market. An intact tiger forearm can bring in hundreds of dollars per pound.
Tiger penis soup sells for $320 a bowl in Taiwan. (Some people actually believe that tiger penis soup will increase their sexuality. Crazy? Absolutely!) Tiger bones, claws, eyes and even the whiskers command high prices for use in Eastern potions and elixirs. To fulfill the demand, the world’s last tigers are being illegally trapped, poisoned and shot, then smuggled across international boundaries.