So if you read through all 100 species on the EDGE list you probably wondered, like I did, hey – where on earth are the tigers?
Search through the database and it turns out that Panthera tigris is ranked at number 331, far behind the rest of the pack. The Royal Society’s website only features information on the top 100 species, so I’m not sure why tigers didn’t make the list – there are only 5,000 to 7,000 left. There are thought to be at least 25,000 Asian elephants, and those are ranked twelfth on the list, so I don’t really know what gives.
I suppose the Royal Society doesn’t consider tigers that “evolutionarily distinct,” as they share so much in common with the other three “great” cats (lions, jaguars and leopards) and the four “big” cats (cougars, cheetahs, snow leopards and clouded leopards). By the way, cougars and pumas and panthers are different names for the same animal. There are many different names for this American cat, which isn’t surprising considering that its territory spans British Columbia to the bottom of Argentina. One of these recently mauled a California man pretty bad, proving that a merely “big” cat is still nothing to trifle with.
The highest ranked cat on the list didn’t even crack the top 100 – the Iberian lynx, which they ranked at 133, a number higher than their own population (about 100 individuals).
But back to tigers. You might take their low rank as evidence that tigers are on the upswing – and in some places they are. The Bengal tiger has fortunately made quite a comeback since the 1970s, when its numbers fell to little over 1000. Now there are probably more than 3,000, most of them in India. But they are at serious risk of extinction – especially considering how southeastern Asia will change over the next century with urbanization, deforestation and climate change.
We can at least be happy that the birth of three white Bengal tiger triplets in an Argentine zoo just notched up the global Bengal tiger count by three: