Thursday, May 12, 2005

Tigers and Ivory-Bills

` I really like earth's life-forms - 'course, as for any other life-forms that may exist, I would probably like them too. (And any species that is pathogenic, I simply like from afar.) I really wish people would stop killing the ones who can barely support themselves naturally with what we've left them. However, in recent weeks, I've gotten both amazingly good news and somewhat bad news.

` First the bad news: One of humanity's favorite species takes a turn for the worse. Dory sent me a very dreary e-mail bearing an article about a population of tigers going extinct. Poor kitties!
` Naturally, tigers really need the support of humans in order to fight other humans. Thier lives depend on our own conservation wars waged against people who should really be trying some other activity - illegal or not - to make money from. Nothing is more devastating these days than doing a lot to completely ruin the natural world as a source of income.
` As we all know, their populations are dangerously decreasing, and some subspecies have already gone extinct! As for a brief history of the tigers of India; in 1947, there were about forty thousand of them, and today, the number is around the mid-to-upper three thousands. In other words, there are only about 9% as many tigers as there were sixty yeas ago!
` All I can say is; at least they're not doing nearly as bad as the lions of India! (Never heard of Indian lions? They've had a much more problematic history!)

` Of course, declining numbers are the reason why Project Tiger was started in 1973, which soon created nine tiger reserves in India. Today, there are 23 such Indian reserves, as well as four more that are not under this program.
` Recently, however, poachers have been big-cat hunting, and have apparently killed all of the tigers in Sariska! This number was luckily only 15, which doesn't seem to be a lot - though the problem is, we need practically every last tiger for a decent gene pool!
` Also, the same kind of thing has also happened in other reserves such as Kanah and Rajaji, and I gather that this is basically part of a very troubling trend. Luckily, measures are being taken to stop it.

` I did however, hear that one of the subspecies of tiger is may not be extinct - the Javan spp. I think. I forget which one, actually. But it's part of my segue nonetheless: It sure is a nice thought, at least; when an extinct subspecies is rediscovered, it's a real triumph for people trying to protect the rest of the species!

` But what if an entire species is rediscovered? It's been about sixty years since all known Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers amounted to zero - even though what sounded like one had apparently responded to the recording of a call of its own species in the 1980's. When an ivory-bill suddenly showed up in front of some people more recently, this led to some doubts about its extinction.
` Of course, being skeptics, scientists wanted undeniable evidence that it wasn't some sort of mistaken identity, because you can't really say that a species is not extinct until can make it just as plain to other people - that's what objectivity is, really. (Thus the term 'confirmed sighting'.)

` Want to learn more as the story unfolds? You can even watch a press release video from Cornell!
` If you can stand the annoyance of pdf documents, there are good pictures for comparison with the video at the bottom of this one.

` I'd write more, but Phil is making strange sounds to urge me to get off the computer and come to the store with him, so I'm leaving now.

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