Why Are Tigers at Risk of Extinction?

Sascha Kohlmann/CC-BY-2.0

Tigers are at risk of extinction due to poaching for illegal wildlife markets, habitat loss and fragmentation, conflict with humans in close proximity and rising sea levels due to climate change. As of 2014, there are only 3,000 to 3,500 tigers of any species left in the wild. The South China tiger is one of the world’s most endangered animals, and three species of tiger are already extinct.

Poachers are drawn to high prices for tiger parts on the illegal animal market due to widespread demand in China and Southeast Asia for tiger parts for use as status symbols, sacred objects, talismans, aphrodisiacs, potions, medicines and other folk remedies. Additionally, countries with populations of tigers often have limited resources for law enforcement to oppose poachers.

When humans destroy forests for timber, agricultural land and highway infrastructure, the tiger’s habitat dwindles. Tigers are solitary hunters that need large areas of land in which to hunt and feed. Human encroachment in formerly wild territories reduces the amount of prey available to tigers, forcing tigers to feed on livestock. This causes humans to hunt tigers to protect their livelihoods.

A significant population of Bengal tigers lives in the Sundarbans, an area of mangrove forest in Bangladesh and India that is threatened by rising sea levels.

Due to the worldwide threat of tiger extinction, a number of organizations work with national governments for the conservation of tigers, including the World Wildlife Fund, the Save the Tiger Fund, the Global Tiger Initiative, Tigers Forever and the Tiger Corridor Initiative.