Last Refuges | The Tiger War

The habitat of the tiger is getting smaller because of the the fire and the scarcity of prey

Planet Doc

A female with cubs needs an average of between 8 and 10 kilos of meat a day, which means over 3,000 kilos a year. For the new mother, the challenge will be to feed her children. And that challenge will be even greater at this time of year. The air carries the unmistakeable smells of the highlands; smells that anticipate the harsh Siberian winter.

In the winter months, hunting becomes increasingly scarce and more difficult.
The world is paralysed and prey and hunters alike must survive a period of scarcity; an annual test that many will prove unable to pass. 
In lower regions, the end of the autumn announces difficult times.

Our tigress knows that her cubs face the hardest test of their short lives.
Hunger is a threat and, in this region, where government is virtually non-existent, the tiger’s prey, like the habitat in which they live, are progressively disappearing year after year. Knowing that the life of her children is at stake, the tigress goes out hunting.
Fire is the greatest enemy of the Siberian tigers. 

Intentional fires are destroying the territory of the tigers.
ome years, up to two and a half million hectares are burnt down. And with the loss of their habitat, the tiger’s prey disappear.With increasingly small, and increasingly fragmented territories, the tigers are concentrated in their last refuges. And, paradoxically, though there are very few left, in these small remaining areas their numbers can be so high that they rapidly wipe out their natural prey. Then, inevitably, the tigers seek alternatives. Hunger makes them overcome their instinctive fear of man and old problems reappear.
Domesticated cattle is easy, tasty prey for a tiger. Once they have seen how easy it is to get, the tigers return time and time again for more. The owners of the cattle are, in turn, poor people whose subsistence depends to a great extent on their animals, so they come out to defend them, causing clashes between tigers and humans. And it is then that the tigers may discover that there is another prey, even more numerous and vulnerable than the cattle; and so they end up becoming man-eaters.

For the tigers of India, the loss of their habitat and consequently of their prey, is also the most serious problem. Inside the national parks, the tigers are safe, but the edges of the parks are often areas greatly coveted by the local people. 

The jungle conserves the humidity and the soil; two increasingly scarce factors, but two vital factors for subsistence agriculture.
The majority of the one billion inhabitants of India live in the most absolute poverty. Cultivating a little land, obtaining a miserable harvest, represent a short-term future, but the bare minimum for survival.

The edges of the parks are burnt and cut down in search of the humidity of the soil. Day by day, the desert encroaches, isolating the last oases of jungle and life. In a country whose land has lost almost three quarters of the humidity of its soil, the wood of the forest and the animals of the jungle are the only possibility of life for millions of Indians. 

And the problem also has other aspects. The same farmers that burn and cut down allow their cattle to graze in the fertile interior of the parks. The cattle decimate the vegetation and introduce diseases that devastate the populations of wild herbivores. It is a disastrous combination. 
The felled trees no longer retain the humidity and the cattle inexorably destroy the plant coverage on which the wild herbivores depend. The rains disappear, the soil is lost and a powerful enemy takes over: the desert.

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