Heretical thought

Conservationists say there are just 3,200 tigers left in the world as the future of the species is threatened by poachers, destruction of their habitat and climate change.

The world population of tigers has fallen by 95 per cent in the past century.

Let\’s start with the point that this is simply a lie. There are, reportedly, some 25,000 tigers in captivity in the US alone (other say 10,000, but the point is made).

It\’s 3,200 \”in the wild\” left, not \”in the world\”.

Secondly, yes, of course it\’s destruction of habitat. Just as both we and the US did with wolves, as we but they did not with the lynx and so on.

But note something: there is that pesky cycle that happens in development (or at least, has done so far). The US has reintroduced the wolf as the increased wealth of the country has led to the habitat regrowing. There are plans to reintroduce the lynx and even the wolf (that latter pretty sketchy plans at present) in the UK.

This of course is only possible if there is a resevoir of the animals, a gene pool somewhere.

OK, we can see that on current trajectories places like India and China will be as rich in 80, 90 years as we are now. We would expect the habitats to expand somewhere between here and there, as our own have.

So why not let the tiger go extinct in the wild and then reintroduce it?

9 comments on “Heretical thought

  1. Tigers breed really well in captivity. They are one of the few species that thrive behind bars. Unlike cheetahs for instance for whom foreplay consists of running a few marathons. So most captive tigers are genetic mixes. They are not pure sub-species but a blend of whatever tigers from whatever country happened to be captured. I imagine India is grossly over-represented. There may also be wild behaviours that are learnt and may be lost. Or not, who knows?

    The simpler solution would be to allow the trade in captive tiger parts so that the demand is met and there is no need to poach the wild ones. It is an absurdity of the anti-market views of the Greens that as wild tigers are slowly disappearing, captive tigers have to be put on the Pill or sterilised or just put down because they are too prolific.

  2. The problem being, a lot of those zoo and circus and privately-owned tigers are hybrids. The number of pure bred species and subspecies is very small.

  3. “The simpler solution would be to allow the trade in captive tiger parts so that the demand is met and there is no need to poach the wild ones.”

    Could you do this with elephants too? You’d need a bloody big farm, but people seem to be willing to pay a lot for ivory.

  4. Optimistic Cynic – “Could you do this with elephants too? You’d need a bloody big farm, but people seem to be willing to pay a lot for ivory.”

    I once made a half-hearted effort to do this with elephants. I needed a country with a decent rule of law, a climate suitable for African elephants and so picked Australia. Do you have any idea what their quarantine laws are like? I mean come on people, it is not as if they are going to breed like rabbits! The ivory was not the main profit centre but tourism. The land is cheap, the plants are often similar, there are few poachers as yet. It would have worked I reckon.

  5. JuliaM – “If you can genetically manipulate kangaroos to grow whopping great tusks instead, you’ll be laughing… ;)”

    Yeah but I bet they would ban it. I was also thinking of introducing tigers to a fenced off part of northern Australia. Also to protect them from extinction and to be paid for by tourism. Who wouldn’t want to eat dinner by candlelight and watch tigers talking kangaroos by the side of a Billabong?

    Again, do people really think that tiger numbers would explode like rabbits? I mean caution is a good thing, but it can be taken too far.

    (I wonder what would happen if I just released some Indian elephants in the Amazon?)

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