Hope for Tigers and Tree Frogs

When the International Council for Science listed observing and innovation among their top 5 challenges to sustainability, they may not have been thinking specifically about tigers and tree frogs. It’s hopeful, however, that scientists this week announced innovative tracking and captive breeding breakthroughs for those two species respectively that offer hope for their survival.

Tracking Tigers is Costly, Time-consuming, and Essential to Prevent Extinction

As Dr Yadvendradev Jhala of the Wildlife Institute of India explained to Science Daily: “Tigers are cryptic, nocturnal and occur at low densities so they are extremely difficult to monitor. Unless we know how many tigers are left in the wild, and whether their numbers are increasing or decreasing, we will not be able to conserve them.”

Dr. Jhala was on a team of researchers who showed that trained trackers could accurately count tigers at a fraction of the cost of using a more high tech method of motion-triggered cameras. Using paw prints and feces, Jhala’s team worked at 21 different sites in the forests of Central and North India. “For each site, it cost US$1,240 and took 220 person-days to collect data on paw prints and feces, compared with US$17,000 and 720 person-days for camera trapping.”

Hope for Shifting the Economic Incentives to Poaching

What I find exciting about this method is not something mentioned by Science Daily at all, but could be as critical to the tiger’s survival as accurate measurements: engaging the local community in the tiger’s survival. Fellow Care2 Blogger Judy Molland reported earlier this month that “[t]he global black market in wildlife products is worth about $10 billion per year, making wildlife the third most valuable illicit commodity after drugs and weapons.” We’re not going to save the tiger unless we shift the economics.

Because the tracking method is low-tech but high skill, it could provide critical jobs for the local population, integrate well with sustainable tourism development, and provide an incentive for the local communities to protect the tigers by turning in poachers or hiring guards for conservation lands (yet another job).

Related reading:

Captive Breeding of Endangered Tree Frog Offers Hope of Surviving Global Disease Epidemic and Other Threats

In other scientific news, biologists at the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project reported the first successful captive breeding of the La Loma tree frog. Hyloscirtus colymba is notoriously difficult to care for in captivity, explained researchers, but successful captive breeding may be an important strategy in helping the frogs overcome chytridiomycosis, rapidly spreading disease which attacks the skin cells of amphibians.

According to Roberto Ibáñez, local director of the project and a scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, “We are creating what amounts to an ark for these animals so that their species may survive this deadly disease. We’re also looking for a cure so that someday we can safely release the frogs back into the wild.”

Take Action

The other part of the shift-the-economics equation is to reduce the profitability of poaching: Ask China to crack down on trade in tiger parts.

Then, support other policies that address trade in wild animals such as this one to extend the international ivory ban and this one to outlaw primates as pets in the United States.

Tiger photo by flickr user law_keven

97 comments

New G.
W. C5 years ago

Thank you for the news.

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Carol Cowbrough
Carol C6 years ago

Noted. Thanks.

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jane richmond
jane richmond6 years ago

Thanks

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ilse diels
.6 years ago

Signed, and prolly signed most wild-cat petitions as well

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Zconstruction X.
Zconstruction X6 years ago

I just signed the petition. Save the tigers - and the tree frogs!

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Denina T.
Denina T6 years ago

I signed! What a great cause! Anything to protect one of nature's most prized possessions.

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Claire Brewerton
Claire Graham6 years ago

I love animals =] Thanks for posting! I'm going to sign the petition now =]

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leyna stemle
leyna stemle6 years ago

:0 thanks

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Gita Sasi Dharan
Gita Sasi Dharan6 years ago

Uncivilized practices should be mad punishable criminal offense if animals are involved.

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Carol Kemp
Carol Kemp6 years ago

Love all cats, also love frogs! Very sad to read of disease affecting frogs! Would think ultra violet light frequency has much to do with the spread of this disease - just hazard a guess!

Off to sign tiger petition.

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