July 29th is International Tiger Day. This day has been celebrated every year since 2010 when the 13 tiger range countries came together with the plan to double the number of wild tigers by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger. Many organisations around the world are continuing to focus on this goal, with numbers of wild tigers reportedly reaching the 4000s up from the original estimated total of 3200 back in 2010.
While this is an extremely important focus, as an NGO we have taken a slightly different approach when it comes to the tigers of the world. A shocking truth is that there are more tigers in captivity then there are in the wild. In Thailand alone, there are approximately 2000 tigers in captive facilities compared to the 200 living in the wild.
As there are so many captive tigers, we have dedicated our work and resources to improving the lives of those tigers, particularly those in Thailand where animal welfare laws are lax, and poor conditions and tiger interactions abound.
This is particularly important this year, with Covid_19 severely impacting the entire world in all aspects. The impact has been particularly felt in the tourism industry, which is where many of Thailand’s captive tigers reside. With coronavirus causing borders to shut and a massive reduction in tourists, tourism facilities housing tigers are struggling to stay afloat. While this does possibly mean a reprieve for the captive tigers as they no longer have to interact with unfamiliar humans, the lack of funding can mean other issues arise – our full article on the issue of Covid_19 can be found here.
Covid_19 has changed our society dramatically. The future is still uncertain so it is the perfect time for all of us to consider how we can prevent exploitation of captive tigers while still providing them with a good quality of life and great welfare. While the impact of coronavirus on wild tigers is yet to be seen, we are starting to see the fall out within Thailand’s captive tiger facilities.
With no tourists, venues are starting to close. However, this does not mean that the tigers are being moved to better conditions. Rather it seems that the tigers are remaining at the facilities, but with no income, these tigers are experiencing an even lower level of welfare. Therefore we would like to take the opportunity this Global Tiger Day, to raise awareness for these tigers, to encourage visitors to think before visiting somewhere that allows tiger interactions and to educate visitors on good tiger welfare.
We have some exciting free resources you can use including comprehensive reports and guides of the facilities in Thailand. Alternatively, you can help out in an active way, by joining our Walk For Tigers event, donating or simply sharing our educational posts on Facebook and Instagram.