World Tiger Day: Interesting facts that you probably didn’t know about these big cats
International tiger day was first observed on 29th July 2010 in Russia at the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit. Since then, on this day every year, World Tiger Day aims to create awareness about conservation of tigers. A number of illegal human activities have led to the decline in tiger population and this day is observed to create awareness and protect tigers from going extinct.
Here are some interesting facts about these big cats that you need to know now!
1. A tiger’s tongue is rough and covered with numerous sharp projections called papillae. They are designed to rip apart the skin, fur and meat, off its prey. In fact, in zoo enclosures, they have even been reported to lick paint off the walls.
2. Did you know that tigers don’t attack humans until they feel threatened? If you happen to have an encounter with a tiger, all you need to do is keep eye contact with it and slowly back away.
3. There are five sub-species of Tiger which include the Bengal Tiger, the South China tiger, Indochinese tiger, Sumatran tiger and Siberian tiger. Sadly, three of the major subspecies – Caspian, Bali and Javan, have become extinct.
4. Around 100 years ago, tigers were found all over Asia, but hunting, human encroachments and habitat loss has significantly affected the tiger population.
5. Tigers play an important role in the health of the ecosystem. Being at the apex of the food chain, tigers are top carnivores that keep the population of herbivore species in check. This protects plant and vegetation which in turn maintains streams, forests and crops that provide people around the world with many benefits like clean air, water and food. They thus maintain a balance which important in the ecosystem. That’s why we need to protect these beautiful beasts from becoming extinct.
Goregaon resident, Dr. Anish Andheria is a conservationist, wildlife photographer and the president of the Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT). This is a non-profit organisation. WCT works towards protecting over 130 sanctuaries and national parks across 23 states of India which cover several tiger reserves and protected areas.
WCT lays equal emphasis on rural development along with the conservation of the ecosystem. Hence, they create better livelihood options for locals and enhance the quality of education in rural schools too.
Living in a busy city like Mumbai, many of us don’t even know the kind of damage that has been done in our environment. Dr. Andheria believes that we as citizens need to be aware of the ill-effects of environmental degradation. Whether it’s a small tree that’s being sacrificed for a wider road or an entire mangrove being disrupted for construction, we need to be vigilant. Ultimately, it’s our future generations that will pay the price for our inaction. He says that not enough pressure is being put on the government to stop the damage of our natural ecosystems.
You don’t need to wait for World Tiger Day to contribute towards the cause of tigers. Do your bit by volunteering with Wildlife Conservation Trust. You can also contribute by making a donation to help conserve wildlife habitats and of course to protect our national treasures – Tigers.
– Supriya Nair