Wednesday 29th July marks International Tiger Day!
Established in 2002 by Steve and Terri Irwin, Wildlife Warriors has a long history of conserving Sumatran tigers.
Tigers once dominated the dense forests of Sumatra. Today, there are less than 500 Sumatran tigers in the wild, resulting in them being listed as Critically Endangered.
"Habitat destruction is now at an all-time high and, subsequently, tiger poaching has risen," explained Australia Zoo's Tiger Manager, Matt Tebb, "In fact, in just the last one-hundred years, the world-wide tiger population has decreased significantly, going from over 100,000 individual tigers to now fewer than 5,000. That's a depletion of 95% in just one century."
In the heart of Sumatra lies Kerinci Seblat National Park, thought to be home to the largest population of the sub-species, approximately 150 individuals. Catching a glimpse of a tiger is rare, and it's often under awful circumstances; when a tiger is hung tightly in a snare.
In 2005, Wildlife Warriors teamed up with Fauna & Flora International to create Tiger Protection and Conservation Units. These units remove traps and snares, gather intelligence within communities, and work with local authorities to bring illegal loggers and tiger poachers to justice. From just one original anti-poaching unit to more than 60 full-time forest rangers today, the program has proven incredibly successful and has led to the prosecution of dozens of poachers and traders, including three so far this year.
"When it comes to protecting wild tigers in wild places, the Tiger Protection and Conservation Units are certainly the guardians of the forest. They dedicate their lives to protecting Sumatran tigers and are on the ground every day working tirelessly to ensure that this magnificent species gets the opportunity to thrive like they once did. With Sumatran tiger numbers now below 500 in the wild, the Tiger Protection and Conservation Units are vital for the ongoing protection of tigers in Sumatra and have an incredibly important role to play in the future conservation of these big cats. I believe that if it wasn't for the units work in Sumatra, the Sumatran tiger would be facing extinction at a rate that provides little hope for recovery," said Matt.
"Steve and I founded Wildlife Warriors to protect wildlife in need, and I am so proud at how much we have achieved to conserve these beautiful animals in the wild," said Terri Irwin.
Australia Zoo will be celebrating with special activities on the day!
To join us on our mission to conserve tigers, visit wildlifewarriors.org.