The are two ways of thinking: inside the box and outside the box. Most people think inside the box, which explains why they always come up with the same obvious solutions for a problem. But what if those obvious solutions barely work or not at all? Then you need to look beyond the obvious, free from conventions and traditions.
At the start of the 20th century, it was estimated there were over 100,000 tigers in the wild, but the population has dwindled outside of captivity to between 1,500 and 3,900. In 1969 the tiger was declared an endangered species and nothing has changed since. Well, except that there are currently more tigers held privately as pets in Texas than there are in the wild.
The threats that are driving tigers closer to extinction all stem from, surprise surprise, man. Tigers are threatened by habitat loss, conflict with humans, and poaching to feed to the illegal trade in tiger parts and products for Vietnam and China.
The vast majority of all wild tigers live in India, a country with 1.3 billion people and counting. With approximately 456 people per square kilometre and no fences around their national parks, habitat loss will become an even bigger problem in the near future. And according to the World Bank, the percentage of the population living in poverty in India was 60% in 2011, equalling 763 million people living below the poverty line. With the price of tiger parts on the black market rising to astronomical levels (up to 20,000 USD just for the pelt), tiger poaching is not going to end anytime soon either.
With all this in mind, John Varty started Tiger Canyon in 2000, an ex-situ tiger conservation experiment in South Africa aiming to protect a growing population of free-roaming tigers. Like most game reserves in South Africa it is fenced, to keep the tigers in and the people out. Critics say that tigers don’t belong in Africa, but they don’t realize that tigers, lions, leopard and cheetah all roamed the same continent once before.
It’s a controversial idea, but in the end that may be exactly what we need.
Marsel | squiver.com