The poaching of tigers is unfortunately not a new or recent phenomenon, wild tigers have been targeted and hunted for prestige and trophies dating back as far as the 16th century.
Historically, tigers have been hunted on foot, elephant and horseback. In India, Mughal emperors had a passion for big game hunting, and royal hunting, or shikar, was carried out until the dynasty fell in 1857. Paintings also depict the Mongol, Turk, & Afghan nobility hunting tigers but the British Raj were perhaps the worst offenders with large numbers of colonial aristocrats using sophisticated firearms which, coupled with habitat loss, significantly reduced India’s tiger population. For example, King George V boasted killing 39 tigers in 10 days in Nepal after ascending the throne in 1911 and it’s estimated over 80,000 wild tigers were slaughtered in the 50 years between 1875 and 1925 alone.
So we have moved from around 150,000 wild tigers globally in 1900 to as few as 3,200 in the wild today. Now, poaching led by demand from China is today’s biggest driver of their current demise. However, unlike 200 years ago, this time there is no going back. Numbers are now at a critical level. So, after two million years with tigers roaming this planet, we are at the 11th hour. Critical countries like China have the chance to change the tiger’s current trajectory. Will they step up to the challenge? Let’s help everyone make the right decision.