Monday, May 24, 2010

Tiger Business

I read with interest the letter from Caroline Vimla published in the Star Online entitled "Saddened by a series of 'not so good news' about Tigers".

I'm sure there are many animal lovers out there who're concerned not only about how some species are pushed to the brink of extinction; but also about how some of them are treated by humans. And of course they are quick to give their opinions on these matters too. I'm sure there are valid points in their arguments. However, sometimes I just wish that they would support their arguments with at least a bit of evidence.

"Then, a tiger was brutally slain by some orang asli in Bukit Tapah Forest Reserve in Sungkai, Perak."

Although I myself have not done any research on it, I suspect that the orang asli have occupied the land for many generations. It is unfortunately that people have grown in population and require increasingly more living space. Sooner or later, they will one way or another, encroach into the habitat of the animals. Occasionally, there will be clashes between men and animals. People will kill animals; and animals will also kill people. But how do we tell these orang asli, dying in the jaws of the tigers, that they are doing a good job in saving the tigers from extinction? If we have to make a choice, would we rather save the man or the tiger?

"It is evident from the video that the tiger is sedated and not “very tame and comfortable around humans” as claimed."

Unfortunately, the above comment is rested solely on assumption! I really don't know what Caroline Vimla does for a living. I suppose it is possible that she is an expert in wild animals. But I wonder if she is really qualified to determine for cetain that an animal is sedated by merely watching via a video recording. She confidently said that "It is evident from the video that the tiger is sedated...", and dismissed the claim that the tigers are "very tame and comfortable around humans."

"What is the point of increasing or doubling the number of Malayan Tigers when we can't even take care of the existing ones?"

As the human population grow, cities and towns will also grow for housing and other developments. Sooner or later we will have no choice but to invade into the animals' territories. When there is a clash between the two, humans will prevail. The sooner these people accept it, the better. In a few generations from now, perhaps the only place we can see some of these animals is in the zoo, unless if we simply let them all die in the jungle.

So keep these wild animals in cages. Feed them well and groom them everyday. Except that who's gonna pay for the upkeep? Caroline Vimla? So charging entry fees to the zoo, or some sort of charges for taking photographs etc for the sake of protecting the animals seems inevitable. Maybe Caroline Vimla should be thankful that there are still some people who're really doing something to actually save these animals.


35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Blog / Rumour owner,

Unsustainable growth must stop. Animal captivity is not the solution. Tigers die, so do we! Please log on to http://www.savetigersnow.org to learn more.

Cheers!

Charles E.

Cornelius said...

Thank you, Charles E, for the link. I am sure there are very good reasons to save the tigers from going extinct. I am not against saving the tigers.

However, we have seen that enacting laws against poaching did very little to arrest the decline of the tiger's population. Poaching is still very much alive today. It is extremely expensive and ineffective to enforce anti-poaching laws. There will always be demand for tiger meats and organs. And apparently many people are willing to pay very high price for them too!

Therefore, in my opinion, perhaps the best way to protect the species is by eating them! Keep them in captivity and let them breed for commercial purposes, much the same way as we do cattle farming. For as long as there is demand for tigers, I'm sure some people would breed it. If it's not cruel to do that to chickens, ducks and cattle, then I can't see why it is cruel to do the same to the tigers? There're just too many uncertainties in letting them roam freely in the jungle.

Cornelius said...

And by the way, my name is Cornelius. I am not a "Rumour owner". Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Dear Cornelius,

I have laid the facts and evidence. If denial persists, what more can I say?

Cheers!

Charles E.

Cornelius said...

I do not claim to be an expert when it comes to saving the tigers. In fact, I readily admit that I know very little!

But what are the facts and evidence that you have given me? I see that over the last 100 yrs, tigers have declined in population by an alarming 97%. Some species have become extinct. You have had anti-poaching laws, awareness programmes to save the tigers, government intervention by allocating resources, donation drive. Yet we do not see any substantial success. In some aspects, I suspect even failure.

Those are the facts. Yet you are saying I am in denial?

Anonymous said...

Dear Cornelius,

You admitted you know least about the tiger. Still, you replied in an hour before you even learned about the tiger from my link. Hence my disrespect for most bloggers. Bad news travel fast. There are many accomplishments if you care to search. There are just too many to list. Russian tigers were up from less than a hundred to 400-500 today. If you need this report for accurate details, I will have to do a little searching.

I agree with those negative facts. We have to play our part to make an effort. There are many obstacles and many have sacrificed and put a lot of effort into this. Please read this 15 page NGEO link http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2010/01/asian-wildlife/christy-text By being pessimistic, we add to the failures. If we give up now, all the efforts by those who fought will be for nothing. It is not too late for the tigers.

Please support us...

Cheers!

Charles E.

Cornelius said...

Charles,

Please don't get me wrong, I am not disputing your information. I suppose if I studied every single page of the contents of your blog, I would be able to learn many more things about the tigers. But I seriously doubt that it would change the way I feel about this animal. If you say you have been successful, then I guess I will have to take your word for it. Again, I am not disputing your information.

However, in spite of the many great efforts to save the tigers, they are still practically at the verge of extinction. Whatever it is you are doing right now, I'm sure there are good reasons why you are doing it. For the survival of the species, I would of course support it.

Nevertheless, I am just giving my opinion here that breeding tigers in captivity appears to offer a better chance of success in saving the species. Desperate situation calls for desperate measures; that is reality. Of course it may not be the best solution for the tigers. Obviously they prefer to be free. When and if we have reached a sufficiently large number of tigers in captivity, we may even release them back into the wild.

This is just my opinion of a possible alternative solution, because the existing approach does not seem to produce very good result. If anything, it looks very much like an uphill task, even if you are unwilling to admit it! If that is pessimism, then I suppose that's what it is, nothing more I can say.

Anonymous said...

Dear Cornelius,

I agree it is an uphill challenge. I am today because I gave the tiger a chance to 'speak'. If you do not want to get to know the tiger, then you have given it a 'death sentence' without hearing its defence and important role. Maybe being judgmental?

Most bloggers tend to give negative opinions on issues they never research. Sadly, that is what the majority likes and unfortunately, you are contributing to this. I sincerely hope that you give the tiger a chance as you can change the majority.

Cheers!

Charles E.

Cheers!

Cornelius said...

Charles,

Your last comment made me read back my own post. I did not for a moment suggest that we kill off all the tigers. And if I somehow appeared to have suggested that, then I must hasten to clarify that that was not the intention of this post!

I don't know about the rest of the world, but in Malaysia, we have had several encounters with the tigers in the wild. It's either the tiger or the man - who should live. I say the man should live, but I can accept that not all will agree with me. Perhaps some people prefer to let the man die so that the tiger gets his meal of the day, I don't know. But if it's me facing the tiger, I would sure as hell try my best to live!

The other solution is of course not to encroach into the habitat of the tiger, but I would say don't keep your hopes too high, because sooner or later that is going to happen. Sorry, sometimes it can't be helped.

I'm afraid it is in our nature to protect own interest first. In doing so, we may deprive some animals of their natural habitats. We try not to, of course, but we are not always successful. That's just how the way it goes. It's not really a case of "death sentence." It's more like the survival instinct of the human race.

But sure, by all means, go ahead and protect the tigers in the jungles. I will support you. I am all for it... until such time when we ourselves need that space for our own use.

Anonymous said...

Dear Cornelius,

You will not budge. I stand by my last post. You truly live by your comment title. If you be liberal and curious enough, read the tiger's 'defence'. End.

Cheers!

Charles E.

Cornelius said...

Stalemate. That's what this is, Charles. You are right, I won't budge. But then again, so won't you. As you can see, I am such a stubborn man, but maybe we are two of a kind? However, I will make it a point to read up this 'defence' thing you are talking about, just out of curiosity. Thanks for sharing, Charles.

Anonymous said...

Dear Cornelius,

I have facts and evidence to back my stand. You only have assumptions, theories and opinion. Mine is stronger in any debate. I appreciate that you are finally giving the tigers a chance by reading its 'defence'. Take your time learning. If you need more facts, feel free to ask. Maybe now you can change your comment title?

You did budge after all and I have succeeded ;-)

Cheers!

Charles E.

Cornelius said...

I'm a bit in a rush right now, but I will surely read the material.

I'm not trying to be rude here. Just want to say that your hardly have a stronger position in any debate, my friend. What you have done is to preach on what you feel very strongly about. I don't quite know what facts and evidence you are referring to that can support your case.

I have given my point of view, assumed or otherwise which you have not even been able to rule out. In fact, my approach has been proven. In the case of the Sumatran Rhino, it's at the brink of extinction right now. So we are trying very hard to breed them in captivity, hopefully we will be able to release them into the wild in the future. You have not provided me with anything whatsoever to prove why breeding tigers in captivity would fail. You are in effect only seeing things from ONE angle... your angle. And that is a strong debate to you.

Anonymous said...

Dear Cornelius,

Like I mentioned, most bloggers always respond without studying what is given to them.

I will try and get some facts on the ineffectiveness of tiger captivity. The rhino and the tigers are two different captivity cases. Some of the facts of tiger captivity ineffectiveness is in one of the links. You can get more from reliable sources on the web.

Some things are how it goes. However, it does not have to be that way.

Cheers!

Charles E.

Anonymous said...

Dear Cornelius,

Here is one of your requested fact links http://endtigertrade.org/facts.html

I will try to search for more.

If you still confident of your point of view, I suggest that you bring this up with this organisation.

Cheers!

Charles E.

Cornelius said...

I'm not claiming that my way is the only way. I have used the word "alternative" several times. I'm not saying your way is wrong. I'm just saying perhaps there is an alternative way. Or even both ways could be used together.

In spite of all those what you're doing, your solution does not end poaching. And I don't think it will ever end. Your solution does not solve the real problem, it merely attempts to mitigate the problem.

For as long as there is demand for the tiger's meat and body parts, there will always be people who're willing to go to all ends to supply them, whether legally or illegally. Breeding tigers is an obvious possibility. I'm not saying it's a foolproof approach, merely a possible alternative.

Anonymous said...

Dear Cornelius,

I agree about poaching. Hence the awareness campaigns and I am trying to make you aware.

As I mentioned, if you feel strongly about your opinion, bring it up with that coalition.

Cheers!

Charles E.

Cornelius said...

OK, I have glanced through your so-called facts and evidence. They content headings like: "FACT: Legalizing tiger farming will increase killing of wild tigers"; "FACT: Legalizing tiger farming will stimulate demand for tiger parts & products".

Those are the kind of statements you refer to as "fact" and "evidence". I see them as merely assumptions just like what I have offered you. But if you can provide me with something like: "FACT: Tiger farming has been legalized in the past, and it was found to lead to....", then maybe there is more to it.

There is not much point to raise this matter to these people, for the simple reason that they are convinced that they are right, just like how you are convinced that you are right. There is no room for alternative approaches.

Cornelius said...

Oh! I am aware of your awareness programme, and I am all for it! Of its success, I say nothing, it has a long way to go! Otherwise, the tigers won't be an endangered species today, and we won't be having this debate right now.

Anonymous said...

Dear Cornelius,

Read all that I have provided. You may understand better rather than replying me blindly. I am with this coalition.

Cheers!

Charles E.

Cornelius said...

You are!? No wonder! OK, let's just end it here. Obviously we are not progressing any further. Again, thanks for sharing.

Sarah Elizabeth said...

#1, as long as there are poor people desperate for money, there will be poachers. Change the economic status of the people and you can save endangered animals.

#2, as long as there is cultural value surrounding an animal, whether endangered or not, there will be poaching. Shark Fin Soup, Whale meat, Tiger penis, etc... If one values these dishes, or believes in the potency of Tiger soup, I would think, logically, they would support protecting tigers. Once they are gone, no more soup! Funny how we are so good at killing ourselves. We destroy our own environment, and our own food sources. We are intelligent, but we are not wise.

Cornelius said...

#1) In other words, Sarah, we can't end poaching of endangered animals. There will always be poor people desperate for money. In Malaysia, we have the death penalty for drug traffickers, yet there are still people trafficking drugs. And I suspect not all of them are poor people! Unfortunately, not all of us obey the law.

#2) Regarding destroying our environment, I'm inclined to believe that many of us are aware of the effects of our acts on the environment. We are aware of the negative effects of destroying our jungles for housing developments, for example. Just that we have the tendency to underestimate the magnitude of those effects. And we always have the tendency to expect others to do something about it, yet we ourselves are not willing to do it; or doing not enough of it.

I think it's a kind of balancing act. We have a certain number of trees. We chop them down and believe that new ones will grow again naturally in a smooth cycle. But actually, we're chopping down trees much faster than they can grow.

We mine for numerous minerals, coal, petroleum etc, but it takes millions or billions of years for new ones to be formed. We are just human, we can't control our appetite. We consume faster than we can reproduce what we consume.

So yes, we're not very smart when it comes to our environment. Indeed we are so good at killing ourselves!

Anonymous said...

Interesting debate! And interesting ideas, Cornelius!

Cornelius said...

Yeah, makes sense, huh? Breed the tigers like how we breed other livestocks. Legalise the trade. For as long as there's still demand, let the tiger farms grow. As long as the money is there, people will keep expanding their farms. Eventually, supply will catch up with demand.

But that is just one possible outcome of legalizing the tiger trade. It's just my hypotheses since if that is possible with, say, cattle farming, I can't see why it's not possible with tigers. We have expanded the idea of animal farming to crocodiles (for meat and skin) and deer. I suggest this approach because I know it is almost impossible to eliminate demand for tiger meats and body parts. We can suppress demand, of course, but with lots of money and other resources.

The other possible outcome of legalizing the tiger trade is of course along the lines of argument provided in the links given by Charles E. And they include all those negative outcomes mentioned therein.

Both possibilities are not proven since as far as I know tiger trades have never been legalized before, though I stand corrected on this. So Charles' "facts" are not very much more superior than my "facts", if any.

That said, however, I'm inclined to believe that the decline of the tiger population in the jungles will one way or another result in distorting the population of the other animals in the jungle; and that as a whole will result in some other indirect changes in the ecological system.

I am not well-read on this topic, and I therefore do not claim that I know about the tigers, as much as Charles E. claims he does. Please be informed that these are only my own hypotheses which may well be wrong.

Sarah Elizabeth said...

Reaction:

#1. I guess my opinion is that we need both. We need activists trying to create a more equal and just society, and we need activists out there trying to save our environment. It was said that if we lose the bumble bee, humans are not far from going next. I think the extinction of predators harms us also, the circle of life, I don't think it is incorrect. We all are a part of an intricate system.
I also think your idea about Tiger farming is rational, but it is the ideals and romance about Tigers that we have, that makes it seem unreasonable. Tigers are beautiful, big predators, I think seeing them being farmed breaks people's hearts and shows just how far off track the human race is. People want to see them wild, living naturally, not being farmed. But with the dire situation at hand for Tigers, I think farming is better than extinction. Possibly we should be doing both. The truth is hard to swallow, I think. The truth is that the human population is always expanding into wildlife, and the wildlife loses, hands down. We need both, and it shows how unbalanced we all are. Like you said, a balancing act, and we are not good at it.

Cornelius said...

Ah! at least someone shares my opinion! Of course it is best if we can prevent ourselves from encroaching into the tiger's habitat, Sarah. But as you have correctly pointed out, we're just not so good in doing that. It is in our nature to destroy our environment.

The human population is currently just under 7 billion. And based on the current growth rate, I think I read somewhere we will reach 10 billion in about 50 years' time. That is not exactly a very long time.

And it does not take a genius to figure out that sooner or later we will need the extra living space. Unfortunately, a big portion of this world is made of water, so encroaching into the jungles appear to be an inevitable option. We try not to, of course. Or at least we try our best to do it as slow as possible. Either way, the future of the tigers and other wild animals doesn't seem to be very pleasant.

As the jungles are shrinking, I seriously doubt that the romantic idea of "preserving the wildlife in natural habitats" can really go very far. We would all love to see that happen, of course, but I am a realistic person.

That is why I feel we need a backup plan, and breeding the tigers in captivity seems to be logical. While we try to protect the tigers in the jungles, which I think we can't do forever, we should also have the tiger breeding plan put in motion. We simply need an alternative plan for the sake of the tigers. At least that's how I see it.

Tekko said...

With the continued conflict between man and nature for land, inevitably nature and all its flora and fauna will lose out. Programs to save the tigers, orang utan, elephants, rhino are good but of limited use.

Creating awareness is a slow and inefficient way to stem the killing and poaching of wild animals. Regulations is not going to help when there is poverty in most of these areas where the animals are.

I think that your opinion on wild animal farming is the way to move forward. Like everything else in the modern world, it is simply a matter of demand and supply. There is currently a demand but inadequate supply. The only way to increase the supply is by controlled farming. That will bring the prices down and as supply becomes more abundant, its mystical beneficial properties will become less so and hopefully in the long run, demand will be reduced.

According to the website link from Charles, there are about 4000 wild tigers today. Yet in the recent report(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/14/chinese-man-mauled-to-dea_n_611831.html) about the father and son who were attacked by 5 tigers in a China wildlife park, the park had about 50 tigers. This must be evidence that the park has managed to successfully breed the tigers. I think it is therefore possible to increase the population of tiger by breeding them.

That should stem the decline in the population of tigers just like it did with crocodiles.

Anonymous said...

The best way is to clone them. You can in a way mass produce tigers from a lab and produce enough tiger penis for the market. Chances of male tigers also 100% if you clone only male tigers. If cloning is too slow for producing enough penis for the world market (especially in events after South Korea beat Greece in World Cup), get the biotechnologists to modified the DNA and produce tigers with multiple penis.

Cloning them purely for the trade, so do not worry about in breeding. Slaugther them before they start to mate. In any case, they are all males.

Cornelius said...

Exactly, Tekko. And speaking of captive breeding, I don't think that people like Charles E are disputing that that could increase the population of the tiger. Rather, they argue along the line of the significance of preserving the ecology of the habitats; that changes in those habitats can and will negatively affect us humans too. And that is a valid argument. I don't think we're disputing that.

However, as the human population increases, we expand our cities and towns and open up new areas for housing, agriculture, we build new roads etc. Because after all, overcrowding can also have detrimental effects on us humans. So it's not really a matter of choice. It is just a matter of time.

The activists cannot accept the reality of the human population growth and the need for increasing living space. The jungles and the animals must be preserved at all cost, that's their point. There is just no room for compromise. And if we so much as suggest anything in the order of captive breeding, our idea must be wrong, and that must have been the result of our ignorance of the facts and evidence that they possess.

Cornelius said...

Anonymous friend,

The fever caused by the current World Cup football - it mounts, does it not? It is curious how a few degrees' rise in temperature can affect the intellect! It is profound what you are suggesting, my friend, but on account of profitability (yes, it always boils down to that), cloning animals is still not a viable option at the moment.

Although cloning experiments have been going on since over 50 years ago, we have not perfected the procedure to achieve the kind of efficiency (whether on technical grounds or economic viability) to support the attempts to raise the tiger population by this approach.

When that famous sheep, Dolly, was successfully cloned some years ago, I read quite extensively on the subject. If I'm not mistaken Dolly was the only successful case out of almost 300 attempts! That is just so inefficient and expensive.

Furthermore the kind of cloning we have achieved so far does not happen like what we see in the movies, e.g. in Resident Evil, where the clone grew in a synthetic sack. Dolly the sheep still required a surrogate ewe, and had to grow just like any other sheep the usual way.

It follows, therefore, that breeding tigers the natural way, i.e. mating between male and female tigers, is still a much more efficient way to do it, at least for now.

However, cloning is a promising approach, when perfected, to resurrect extinct animals. I think I read somewhere (I believe from the National Geographic, though I may be wrong), that there are hopes of resurrecting the mammoth in the future. But I would seriously doubt that it will happen during my lifetime.

Cornelius said...

Oh! I forgot to mention, Anonymous friend, that you must be careful when suggesting something like modifying the DNA to produce multiple penis. Some men may be tempted to achieve that for themselves.

Sarah Elizabeth said...

Cornelius, I sense Sarcasm in the anonymous poster's comment, I don't think they are being serious, they are merely showing they disagree with Tiger farming.

Look Anonymous, I disagree with farming also, like I said, it shows how off track the human race is, and we cannot get emotional about cultural desires (tiger penis soup), because emotion and possibly denial, or hating another culture's appetites, doesn't change the facts. If we could change the entire culture of a people, possibly we would, but until that day happens, or awareness finally happens, I would rather see Tiger's bred in captivity for their preservation, NOT so there are more to be hunted or to feed demand for their meat.

What can I say, reality sucks, but we are doing it to ourselves, so it is probably wise to face it with our eyes wide open and stop being emotional about it.

I am all about conservation, if we cut down the jungles we are killing our own oxygen supply, possibly people don't see that. We have to preserve the jungles in order to preserve ourselves. The environment is our number one issue these days. Will we be wise, or will we kill ourselves? I guess we will find out. Until then, I think we should do what we can to save the wildlife, because the population is expanding, and most people don't care if they cut down some trees to make a house, compound that by however many hundreds of thousands, and you can grasp the magnitude of the issue we are facing.

Cornelius said...

Yeah, Sarah, I detected the sarcasm. I was just playing along (smile).

Cornelius said...

A coincidence perhaps, but yet another example of what would usually happen when humans and tigers live in the same neighbourhood.

Another possible outcome would probably have been like this: The tiger is trapped by the Wildlife Conservation folks and then released back into its habitat 10 kilometres away, i.e. in the Bintang Hijau Forest Reserve, where it will die of hunger. Either that or it will find its way back to the villages where it can find food.