Endangered Species


(Photo: Courtesy The Tiger Information Center - Minnesota Zoo Collection)

What is the problem? Tigers are one of the Earth's fastest disappearing species. At the beginning of this century there were about 100,000 wild tigers. Today there are less than 2,500! Originally, there were nine subspecies of tiger - 3 of which are now extinct. The 6 remaining tiger species: Amur (Siberian), Malayan, South China, Indo-chinese, Royal Bengal and Sumatran all have very shaky futures.

They are disappearing from the wild because of:

  • Habitat Loss - Humans are getting on tigers' turf.
  • Poaching - Humans are illegally hunting tigers.
  • Population Fragmentation - Humans are separating tiger groups.

Habitat Loss: Across all of Asia, places that were once covered with vast forests have been cleared for agriculture. As forest space diminishes, tigers can't find the prey they need to survive. As a result, tigers have begun to eat the livestock belonging to villagers who live near what's left of the forests. That's a problem for the livestock, it's also a problem for the tigers who sometimes get killed by villagers protecting their families and their livestock.

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. Forestry and wildlife departments don't have the resources to fight against the poachers.

Population Fragmentation: Of any predator, tigers require the largest land area to survive and must compete with people for limited habitat and resources. As habitat is lost, people move farther into what was once the forest. Groups of tigers become separated from one another by villages and farms. This is called "population fragmentation." Consequently, tigers in one area can no longer mate with tigers in nearby areas. Instead, tigers breed repeatedly with the same small group of animals. Over time, this inbreeding weakens the gene pool, and tigers are born with birth defects and mutations. 

It's the Law!

In 1969 the tiger was declared an endangered species. At that time there was an official ban on the export of tiger furs from India.

In 1975, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) imposed a ban on the buying or selling tiger parts. In 1993, CITES warned China and Taiwan to shut down their black markets trading in tiger parts or face trade sanctions. When they did not comply, the United States took historic steps. In 1994, President Clinton imposed trade sanctions against Taiwan for its role in illegally marketing parts of tigers and rhinos. (Rhinos are as endangered as tigers. They are slaughtered for their horns.)

Also, in 1994, the United States Congress passed The Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act to provide resources to conservation programs focused on saving these endangered species. (White Tiger [Bengal] Photo: Courtesy The Tiger Information Center - Minnesota Zoo Collection) 

However, there is some good news. Thanks to mainly private adopters and a few zoo programs, there are an estimated 20,000 tigers living in captivity around the world.

What You Can Do to Help!

Tigers are a global resource. Loss of the tiger doesn't just mean that the tiger, as a species, is lost. It also indicates an imbalance within an ecosystem that affects many other life forms. We can never replace a species once it is lost! Extinct is forever! So do something!

1. Write to President Obama and Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior expressing your concern about the fate of tigers and your desire that they be saved.

Write The President at:

President Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, DC 20500

Email The President:

[email protected]

Write The Secretary at:

Ken Salazar
Secretary of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240

Email The Secretary:

click here

2. Write your United States Senator and Congressional Representative. Tell them how important tigers are to you and ask them to support protection for tigers and their habitat and to keep other environmental laws strong.

3. Write to the Prime Minister of India and ask him to help save the tigers in India.

4. Adopt-A-Tiger: The Tiger Foundation.

This South China Tiger subspecies is almost extinct.
There are no South China Tigers in the wild.
Only 50-60 remain in captivity.
 (South China Tiger Photo: Courtesy The Tiger Information Center - Minnesota Zoo Collection)

5. Check out these websites and find out what these organizations are doing to help save the tiger. Find out what you can do to work with them!

Global Tiger Patrol

Global Tiger Patrol - Founded in 1989, Global Tiger Patrol (GTP) is a conservation agency prioritising protection of the tiger in the field. If the wild tiger became extinct, most experts agree that it is extremely doubtful whether it could ever be reintroduced. The tiger, the pre-eminent symbol of the wild, would be gone forever, and with it, Asia's wilderness.

Write them at:

Global Tiger Patrol
87 Newland Street
Essex CM8 1AD,

Call them at:

Tel + 44 (0) 1376 520320
Fax + 44 (0) 1376 519763

Visit their web site at:

Email them at:

Click here to contact them

Save the Tiger Fund

Save The Tiger Fund is dedicated to providing information to help preserve the remaining five subspecies of tigers: Siberian, South China, Malayan, Indochinese, Bengal and Sumatran. These tigers are an endangered species; only about 4,000 tigers are left in the wild.

Write them at:

Save The Tiger Fund
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

1133 15th Street, NW, Suite 1100
Washington D.C. 20005

Call them at:


Visit their web site at:
Links to more Tiger Conservation Organizations, especially for the classroom.

Email them at:

[email protected]

The Tiger Foundation

The Tiger Foundation - is dedicated to the protection of all indigenous wild animals and plants in their natural communities. Offers free information on biodiversity and threatened and endangered animals.

Write them at:

The Tiger Foundation
Suite 2007-1177 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
Canada V6E 2K3

Call them at:

Tel: 604-893-8718
Fax: 604-687-3797

Visit their web site at:

Email them at:

[email protected]


Environmental Investigation Agency is spearheading international efforts to protect endangered species such as tigers, bears, rhinos,elephants, whales, dolphins, porpoises and wild birds.

EIA London:

62/63 Upper Street
London N1 0NY

Tel: 020 7354 7960
Fax: 020 7354 7961

[email protected]


PO box 53343
Washington DC 20009

Tel: 202 483 6621
Fax: 202 986 8626

[email protected]

Visit their web site at:

(Photo: Courtesy The Tiger Information Center - Minnesota Zoo Collection)

Help other Endangered Species

Check out other Environmental Organizations

S P E C I E S 

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last updated February 9, 2010
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