Earth Hour was launched 11 years ago today in Sydney Australia as a ‘lights out’ event with the aim of inspiring people around the globe to act on the environmental crisis our world now faces. Now the largest environmental movement, Earth Hour relies on members of the public to power this movement with the support of WWF and other charitable organisations to highlight the extreme climate change, the accelerating loss of biodiversity and the immediate need to protect our natural environment.
To celebrate 11 years of Earth Hour we would like to share with you 11 ways you can assist with our global crisis of the decrease in wild tiger populations as well as a few helpful tips on how to ensure you only visit credible facilities that house captive tigers.
Photo credit: Camera trap image of a tiger © WWF-Indonesia / Tiger Survey Team
1). Do your research!
Before you visit facilities such as zoos, sanctuaries and wildlife centres that house any animals, not just tigers, read as much as you can. However, we must advise that it is important to ensure that your research comes from creditable sources to prevent bias opinions and blogs from clouding your judgement. Even though most blogs and Facebook posts from the public come from their heart, the information provided is often not factual and can cause false impressions to be built around a facility. In turn, this can cause a reduction on the number of people visiting a facility which results in less funds being available for the animals, their enrichment and their welfare. However, if your research discloses an establishment to be of concern, do not visit this facility and ensure you let your friends and family know of your researched findings! Check out this link to ensure that your research is always coming from a reliable and trusted source.
2). Understand good animal welfare!
Animal welfare defines the mental and physical well-being and overall health of an animal. As we are now aware that all vertebrate animals can feel the same pain and suffering as we do as humans, it is important to ensure all animals within captivity are not exposed to anything which may distress them or cause them pain or suffering of any kind.Because of years of research from experts within the animal industry, the 5 freedoms were created as template to ensure the welfare of animals within captivity. The 5 freedoms are as follows:
Freedom from Hunger and Thirst – all animals must have easy access to a supply of fresh water and a species-specific diet.
Freedom from Discomfort – all animals must have an appropriate environment which contains a shelter as well as a comfortable resting area.
Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease – the individuals responsible for the animal in question have a duty to prevent, as well as rapidly diagnosis and treat any illnesses, injuries or diseases.
Freedom to Express Normal Behaviour – all animals have the right to appropriate sized enclosures, as well as species-specific enrichment and stimulation.
Freedom from Fear and Distress – animals must be provided with suitable living conditions are treated in a manner which prevents mental suffering.
For more information on how the five freedoms can be applied to a zoo environment follow the below link to read Born Free's explanation of animal welfare.
3). Don’t be afraid to speak to keepers and workers!
During visits to animal facilities, most members of the public can be shy about approaching keepers and staff. Even though the staff will be very busy looking after the animals, you can ask questions in relation to the facility and the animals you wish to talk about. Ask about their breeding programs, are they involved in any? What enrichment do they provide for their animals, do they change it on a regular basis and what enrichment have they found works best for the species you are discussing? What do they know about the animal’s background, what are their stories? Questions like this can give good indications of how a facility looks after their animals and what efforts they take to ensure their animals are happy and healthy. However please remember, be polite and express your concerns in an appropriate manner when approaching staff members within facilities. Aggressive and abusive behaviour does not promote animal welfare.
Interested in getting your hands dirty and making your own impact when it comes to improving animal welfare? There are a wide range of reputable zoos, charities and sanctuaries that need people like you to lend a helping hand. Whether it’s assisting in educating poaching prone communities or cleaning up dirty enclosures, every little bit helps! To run a successful zoo or sanctuary takes a lot of hard work and a huge dedicated team, which makes volunteers an essential part of ensures these businesses run successfully and can focus all their efforts on the welfare of their animals. Remember, looking after animals is hard work and can be very exhaustive but the rewards are endless. No words will ever explain the joy you will experience when you see that you have made a change to another life, no matter how small. However, again we advise doing your research or even using trusted sources for finding volunteer placements such as this link here.
We understand that volunteering requires time and sometimes money, so if volunteering is not for you but you still want to help why not organise your own fundraiser with your friends, in your school or even get the whole community involved! Fundraising efforts ensures that projects have the sufficient funds to ensure they are working towards their cause, whether it is protecting tigers in the wild or ensuring their welfare in captivity is continuously improving. To give you an understanding of the costing behind these projects, it is has been estimated that it could take up to $15 million dollars to appropriately protect India’s tiger reserves alone! Understanding costing behind such projects defines the importance of fundraising. National tiger day is approaching quickly, and every penny can help towards a better future for both captive and wild tigers alike so why not check out this link for some amazing ideas of how you could fundraise to help your favourite charity or non-profit organisation carry out the essential work they are doing to help save the tigers?
6). Buy FSC certified recycled toilet paper!
Rainforest destruction is one of the primary causes relating to the population decrease of wild tigers. The rainforest provides essential habitat and protection for wild animals such as tigers, meaning the more this habitat is destroyed the less space there is for species such as tigers. This causes inter-species conflict as they fight for prime territories, which can result in species killing one another or driving the opponent into exposed territories where animals are at risk of poaching or encroaching into human settlements. Research carried out by WWF has shown a direct connection between toilet tissue products in American supermarkets, schools, restaurants and homes with the destruction of tropical rainforests in Sumatra. With only an estimated 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild, it is crucial we take the steps necessary to preventing any further forest destruction in Sumatra and around the rest of the world. As a consumer, sensible buying decisions can have a direct impact on improving the issues surrounding deforestation. You can help by assuring you buy toilet tissue products that are FSC certified (see logo below) or guaranteed 100% recycled material. You can also ask businesses that you are using such as restaurants if they use recycled toilet paper and you can even advise the benefits of such items if they do not use them currently. But remember, always be polite and respect staff members and your colleagues when raising such concerns.
7). Be shopping smart when purchasing items such as Palm Oil
Palm oil is estimated to represent around 30% of all the vegetable oil in our supermarkets. But it is not just found in food products, palm oil can be found in cosmetics, bath products and even in biofuels. The demand for vegetable oils such as palm oil has increased dramatically over the last 20 years and with a huge 80% of palm oil production occurring in native tiger countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, it is easy to see why the production of this oil has resulted in the destruction of tiger habitat. So how can you help? Be smart when you are shopping and look for RSPO certified palm oil products and be aware of the other names that can be used to disguise palm oil in ingredients lists. Check out this link for the full list of alternative names used for palm oil.
8). Buy Rainforest Alliance Coffee!
Another major contributing factor in the decrease in tiger habitat relates to the number of illegal squatters who convert areas of national parks into coffee growing farmlands. In Bukit Barisan Seletan National Park in Sumatra, there has already been 20% of the land illegally converted into coffee farms. This has a direct impact on tiger habitat and decreases wild tiger populations. Companies such as The Rainforest Alliance assist in stopping these illegal squatters by encouraging global businesses to only purchase coffee from out with illegal farms. This organisation is also helping local coffee growers source legal land to build their farms, as well as teaching them more economical ways to produce coffee and helping them get better prices for their products which benefits the whole community. You can do your part from home by ensuring the coffee products you buy are branded with the logo below.
9). Question your use of natural resources!
The over use of natural resources such as trees and fossil fuels is also having a direct impact on wild tiger populations. Trees are cut down to make several materials such as paper and as a direct result, habitats are destroyed which indirectly affects tiger populations. However, there are simple things you can do at home to reduce the demand for such items:
Recycle – recycling does not just prevent pollution of our oceans and the environment, it reduces the demand for natural resources too!
Reducing meat consumption – the demand for meat is forever putting pressure on farming industries to expand. However, the more land they are using to farm animals, the less there is available for a variety of species across all countries in the world. For some people, going vegetarian is a scary concept, however giving up meat for just one or two days a week could have a dramatic impact on the demand for meat and the pressures on the industry as well as reducing land needed for farming.
Paper usage – be smart when printing, there are plenty of smart apps on phones now that can store reservations, so always question whether you need to print an item or not? You can also encourage your place of work to digitise files and ask companies to show your reservations on your phone to prevent the need to print!
Fuel usage – question whether you need to drive for every trip you make? Can you walk to the shops? Or perhaps you could cycle to work? Many companies have now started a initiative to help employees buy bikes to do their bit to help with the environment. Why not ask you employer today if your business is part of a cycle scheme or would consider joining one like that of this link right here?
10). Support reputable charities and organisations!
There are many charities and non-profit organisations who are devoted to improving the conditions faced by both wild and captive tigers. By supporting these organisations, you are helpings spread the word and raise awareness on the current situation through newsletters and posts which keep members of the public such as yourself informed on the latest information regarding the situation faced by tigers. In addition to this, donations made to reputable charities can assist with costs relating to improving captive tiger welfare, helping the battle of replenishing wild tiger populations and ensuring the wild tigers we have left are suitably protected. If your interested in helping you can follow these links for options to help both wild and
11). Share your knowledge!
Most members of the public are not aware of how dramatic the situation tigers are faced with, is. So, don’t be shy! Tell your friends, your colleagues and family members everything you know about the current tiger situation. Advise them of the small changes they can make to help, ask them to buy certified products from FSC, RSPO and The Rainforest Alliance. The future of tiger populations is in our hands, so speak up and share your knowledge and make a difference today.
These simple hints and tips are ways you, as an individual, can make a change for a better future for tigers and our planet. But don’t forget, Earth Hour starts at 8.30pm tonight where charities, non-profit organisations and individuals just like you can come together to raise awareness and take action on climate change and how we can protect the planet together. So turn off your lights and make a stand today, for tigers, for the planet and for our future.