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International Tiger Day

International Tiger Day, also known as Global Tiger Day, takes place annually on July 29. It is a day to celebrate tigers, to raise awareness for the need for their preservation, and to promote the protection and expansion of their habitats. The day was designated in the St. Petersburg Declaration on Tiger Conservation, which was released on November 23, 2010, during the Global Tiger Summit. The summit was held in St. Petersburg, Russia, between November 21 and 24, 2010. It focused on the conservation of tigers and was attended by leaders from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Russia, and Vietnam.

The summit came out of the need to do something as tigers became more endangered and faced extinction, with some subspecies already being extinct. In the early twentieth century, 100,000 tigers lived in the wild. Their numbers decreased by about 97% in a century and were as low as 3,200. There are now more tigers living in captivity in the United States than there are in the wild in Asia.

The dwindling number of tigers has been caused by a number of factors, most tied to habitat loss. As humans have expanded agriculture and cities, tigers and humans have competed for area, and tigers have lost about 93% of their natural habitat. Being forced to live in smaller areas of habitat has made them more vulnerable to poaching as well. With the shrinking of their habitat, tigers have less to hunt in the wild, which causes them to hunt domestic livestock instead. In turn, they are killed or captured by humans as retaliation. Climate change is also affecting the tiger population and may become a larger factor in the future if it is not addressed. For example, rising sea levels in the Sundarbans—a mangrove forest area between India and Bangladesh on the coast of the Indian Ocean—may affect the habitat of Bengal tigers there in the coming decades.

Tigers are the largest felines in the world, with an average length of 4.8 to 9.5 feet and a weight of 165 to 716 pounds. The largest tigers are Siberian tigers, also called Amur, which are about 10.75 feet long with a weight of about 660 pounds. The smallest tiger is the Sumatran tiger. There are nine subspecies of tigers, but three are now extinct.

Tigers usually are orange with black stripes but can be other colors as well, such as white with tan stripes. The markings are different on every tiger, just like fingerprints on a human. Being carnivores, their stripes help camouflage them when hunting large animals such as deer, rhinos, elephant calves, and pigs. The tigers suffocate their prey with their large jaws, after clamping down on their neck.

Wild tigers are only found in Asia. The larger subspecies of them, such as the Siberian tiger, usually live in more northern, colder areas such as eastern Russia and northeastern China, while the smaller subspecies live in warmer, southern countries, such as India, Vietnam, and Bangladesh. Tigers live in forests, which vary depending on the subspecies and the part of the world they are in. Arid, flooded mangrove, tropical, and taiga are all forests that are inhabited by tigers. Tigers are solitary creatures that roam large areas for food. A Siberian tiger may have a range of 4,000 square miles.

How to Observe International Tiger Day

One way to observe the day is to donate to support tigers through World Wildlife Fund. You could raise awareness by letting others know about the need to protect and preserve the habitats of tigers and celebrate tigers by learning about all the different supspecies. Check for local events related to the day. Events have been held in the United States and England, as well as in countries where tigers live in the wild, such as Bangladesh, Nepal, and India.

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