This surprises me

And while scientists are reasonably confident that about a fifth of vertebrates – including the charismatic panda, tiger and black rhino – are threatened,

The panda and the rhino, yes. But the tiger?

Last I heard there were something like 25,000 tigers in private hands (possibly not entirely le mot juste, adult tigers are as likely to eat hands as be in them) in the US alone.

I have absolutely no idea at all, even of the order of magnitude, of what the \”natural\” wild population would be. But I could imagine that 25k for an apex predator could be about right. I\’d be astonished if it were 250k for example and know damn well that it\’s not 2.5 million.

Anyone actually know?

5 comments on “This surprises me

  1. Dare say the estimate of vertebrate species under threat of extinction is around 20%. Come to think of it, 100% of vertebrate species are under threat of extinction. That’s how the evolution thing works, isn’t it? So we’re getting a shakeout of those species that have over-specialised for a limited environment. Like the panda. Eventually, that was going to happen anyway. Or Lean would be writing about the worrying tyrannosaur decline.

  2. A fifth of vertebrates are ‘threatened’? Perhaps, but then that must mean that ‘threatened’ turns into ‘extinct’ a vanishingly small proportion of the time.

  3. I thought we’d covered this before? The majority of tigers in private hand are – not to put too fine a point on it – mongrels.

    Pure-bred examples of the various subspecies are very rare indeed – why do you think zoos have set up complicated, cumbersome exchanges to ensure inbreeding isn’t continued?

    Tim adds: “mongrel” is the opposite of “inbred”.

    I know what you mean, but the above is still true.

  4. If you just want tigers, there’s no great problem. But the five or six surviving subspecies are certainly threatened (the Bengal Tiger less so than the others).

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