Celebrate our Amazing Planet with International Tiger Day

Earth Day might be the oldest environmental holiday, but saving the planet takes more than one day per year. That’s why environmental activists have devised so many other collective actions to remind Homo sapiens to take care of our habitat. In our Celebrate our Amazing Planet series, your kids will learn about the challenges affecting our environment and how they can be part of the solution.

The Gist

While cat videos remain the most ubiquitous source of entertainment on the web, real-life big cats are some of the rarest living things on the planet. Merely 100 years ago, 100,000 tigers roamed Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, and Russia; today, less than 3,000 wild tigers still roam free, thanks to the expanse of cities, destruction of their environments, and ruthless poaching practices. That means baby tiger memes will someday soon face extinction too!

The largest remaining tiger habitat, the Sundarbans region on the southern border of India and Bangladesh, is a mangrove forest threatened by rising sea levels. If the forest continues to go underwater, this entire habitat – along with half of the remaining tiger population – could be gone in 50 years.

Declining populations of top-of-the-chain predators like tigers, mean ecological repercussions all across the food chain: no tigers means an explosion in populations of the herbivores that the tigers eat; an overabundance of herbivores means decimation of trees and plants; reduced forests mean more carbon emissions which the trees are not there to mitigate; more carbon means a slow destruction of human habitats. And suddenly, the fragile diversity of the ecosystem loses balance.

In response, animal welfare organizations like World Wildlife Fund, National Geographic, and the United Nations have all pledged their support to the St. Petersburg Summit’s 2010 initiative, International Tiger Day. Yes, the stakes are high and of course, no one wants to think about a world without tigers. But it doesn’t mean your kids can’t have a little fun on what promises to be the most festival animal holiday in the world.

The Day

On July 29, tiger lovers around the globe can speak out to raise awareness for these endangered big cats, sponsor a tiger in the wild, or just tell stories about their favorite big cats. Here’s what you can do:

Get the official Tiger Day poster from the website, which is cuter every year than it was the year before – you won’t regret it. These posters aren’t just for your kids’ bedroom walls though: put them up through your neighborhood to raise awareness about tiger populations and gather support for your own Tiger Day event.

Plan a tiger trivia test, and charge participants to enter. Donate the entrance fees to WWF’s Adopt a Tiger fund, and give the resulting care package of tiger goods to the trivia winner. This will give your kids a good incentive to study up on their tiger facts.

For example, did you know that tigers are nocturnal, solitary animals that mark their territory very aggressively to prevent encroachment? Or that they can hunt animals twice their size; or that the sound of their roar can travel over 2 km? Lucky for us, our personal feline friends, which are just as territorial and aggressive, are a whole lot smaller too!

After the Fact

There are charities aimed at expanding tiger populations, like the Global Tiger Initiative, who carry out their work year-round. Protecting tiger habitats, like the Sundarban mangrove forest and the Malaysian forests, are a crucial part of helping tigers live to roar another day. And where tigers live, forests and jungles will continue to be protected, keeping the fragile balance between nature, animals, and humans that allows our planet to thrive.

Another part of the Tiger Initiative’s work is tracking and stopping illegal poaching of tigers. Vacationing in a tiger habitat in Southeast Asia? Let authorities know if someone offers to sell you rare tiger parts. If your teenager is a good cyber-hunter, perhaps she can track the trade of these goods online too. Detective work that can hunt down tiger hunters faster than they can catch their feline prey will make a huge difference!

The Long Run

By raising awareness, lobbying international lawmakers, and protecting tiger habitats, International Tiger Day can make a difference for tigers and their ecosystems all over Southeast Asia. And in making a difference for animals, human inhabitants of the same countries, and climates will be healthier too.

And tigers aren’t the only animals in extreme danger of extinction. If your kids want to get involved in ecosystem justice and animal preservation, check out the WWF’s Endangered Species List. It sets out a list of vulnerable animals in the world and how you can help them. While sending a donation is the most obvious way to help, campaigning and sharing your knowledge about tigers is a great way to get kids involved too.

Plus, there’s nothing cuter than seeing a mother lick her giant paw to clean behind her tiger baby’s ear. And we don’t want those GIFs to blur into extinction, now do we?

Will you and the kids be participating in International Tiger Day this year? What activities do you have planned? Share with us!

Tags : celebrations   celebrate our amazing planet   green holidays   animal lovers   nature   international tiger day   

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