Thursday, 23 September 2010
The Lost Land of the Tiger
If you’ve missed the BBC 1 series ‘The Lost Land of the Tiger’ this week, make sure you catch up on BBC iplayer…
In the mountains of Bhutan, battling dense tropical jungle, crippling altitude sickness, rotting food supplies and hailstones the size of golf balls, the BBC's team of explorers, scientists and camera-men, filmed tigers in the mighty Himalayas at 4,000m above sea level - an elevation previously thought to inhospitable for tigers to inhabit.
With the BBC claiming its film was the first evidence that the animals could live and breed in the highest mountain range on earth, hopes have been raised for a high-altitude sanctuary that could provide a refuge for the endangered animal. The discovery has initiated ambitious plans to study and conserve Bhutan’s wildlife by creating a series of ecological corridors.
"This is such a significant discovery for tiger survival," said wildlife cameraman, Gordon Buchanan. "The tigers' behaviour suggests they are breeding and I am convinced that there must now be cubs somewhere on this mountain."
Conservationists believe that Bhutan’s sparsely populated, extreme-altitude habitat is relatively unthreatened by human development and could provide a ‘tiger corridor’ that could link animals in other parts of Asia. With over 70% of the country covered in forest, strong Buddhist beliefs, limited tourism and very little exploitation , Bhutan is potentially one of the safest habitats on earth for one of world’s most threatened species. Knowing that the world’s largest cat can live and breed at such an altitude gives massive hope to tiger populations worldwide.
This breaking research has been key in filling in knowledge gaps about Bhutan;s tigers, but there is still much work to be done. Over the past century, species of tiger have vanished from Bali, Java and the Middle-East, with populations of the Sumatran and South China tigers now at critical levels. In neighbouring India, China and Nepal, habitat loss and hunting have dangerously depleted the tiger populations, and globally, there are thought to be just over 3,000 tigers left in the wild - a 5% drop from the start of the last century.
Image taken from guardian.co.uk
If you missed the series, watch on BBC iplayer
Related links:Read Justin Francis' blog 'India bans Tiger Tourism' at Responsible Travel's blog