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Conserving Sumatran tigers

In February the world’s population of Sumatran tigers increased by one whole percent. The triplets that were born to the tigress, Melati, have been celebrated by conservationists and by the staff at London Zoo where they were born. Since being in the same room as a pregnant tigress is a prospect few would relish, the birth of the three cubs was monitored with video cameras from a cubbing pen specially designed for the event. To ensure their safety, the new cubs are being kept separate from their father, Jae Jae.

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By the year 1970, there were as little as one thousand Sumatran tigers left in the wild. Unfortunately, things have only got worse since then, as there is estimated to be only around three hundred of these beautiful animals left.

The destruction of habitat, and the practice of poaching animals to use paws and horns in traditional remedies, has pushed many of earths’ endangered species to the brink. In the history of life on Earth, there have been five major extinction events which have obliterated species on a cataclysmic scale. The sixth is currently shaping up to be nothing so dramatic as meteor strikes or volcanic explosions; rather, it is looking to be the actions of humankind which will cause the next evolutionary crash.

With so little time and so much effort required to save endangered species, is it even possible to reverse the damage we have done? Luckily, conservation efforts in Nepal have proven that nothing is insurmountable. Through the dint of considerable effort and interaction with conservationists, park rangers, and government agencies, since 2011 only one rhino was lost to poaching, with not a single other endangered species being harmed. With even the Nepalese army being employed to guard national parks in the fight against the criminal organisations that traffic the corpses of valuable creatures, a much harsher stance on wildlife crime has resulted in over seven hundred arrests. The recovery is already beginning. Tigers, rhinos and elephants in Nepal have all seen their populations grow in recent times, and the Nepalese government has pledged to step up their efforts. If other countries with targeted species were to copy this model, such as South Africa, where a hundred and forty six rhinos have already been killed in 2014, then zoos might not be the only place where you can see a tiger cub.

12/04/2014

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dominicburchnall



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