Staff Blog :Why Protect Tigers? Their Value Beyond Beauty

They’re loveable, commanding, and graceful.
The largest of the cat family have been admired from ancient times
Oh, the beauty of tigers.

But tigers have also been the target of poaching for their furs and bones (for use in traditional medicine). Moreover, due to drastic deforestation, the number of wild tigers has dropped below 4,000.

As part of WWF’s effort to protect tigers, I am in charge of the preservation program in the Greater Mekong region.

The motivation to protect this species is beyond their beautiful appearances.
It is beyond their charisma.
There is a reason why we must protect them.

Have you ever heard the term “ecological pyramid?”
It is a diagram that represents the relationship of what-eats-what in an ecosystem.


An ecological pyramid with the tiger at the top tier

Tigers are at the top of the ecological pyramid in forests, such as the ones located in Southeast Asia.
For the tigers to thrive, there need to be herbivores to feed on. For herbivores to thrive, there need to be plants to feed on, and, thus, a healthy forest is necessary.
Although there are differences among regions, a single female tiger requires approximately 70km2 and a single male as much as 250~300km2 of forestland!
When we think about their producing offspring and thriving into the future, vast forestland is necessary.

Protecting tigers, which require immense forestland, naturally leads to protecting other animals that live in the forest, such as orangutans, rhinos, and elephants. Thus, tigers are regarded as umbrella species. This means that by protecting this single species, other species are consequently protected, as if under an umbrella. Although protecting the tigers won’t protect all other species, it is an important concept for conservation efforts to produce the greatest effect.