The Latest On: When Five Hundred Tigers Are Not Enough

Bengal tiger growling

It is sad but true that the latest news has not been promising for wild tiger populations. In September, an article published in PLoS Biology (1) estimated that the best hope of saving the wild tiger population would be to shift focus to source sites, which are “…at spatially well-defined priority sites, supported by proven best practices of law enforcement, wildlife management, and scientific monitoring.” The authors estimate the cost to save these sites at $82 million (U.S). At the time of publication, $47 million had been committed by governments and other groups. It isn’t difficult  math to figure out there is a deficit.   Continue reading “The Latest On: When Five Hundred Tigers Are Not Enough”

Caspian Tigers: Extinction Not Quite Forever?

The Caspian Tiger might not be as extinct as once believed.

When is an extinct subspecies not extinct? Maybe when it is not really a subspecies at all— The tiger subspecies Panthera tigris virgata, or Caspeian Tiger, was purported to have become extinct in February of 1970 when the last survivor was shot in Turkey. Leaving aside the hard to grasp idea that we might know down to the month when a species became extinct because someone shot the last one, it is clear that one tiger can hardly make little tigers by itself, so that subspecies was already doomed. Or was it? Continue reading “Caspian Tigers: Extinction Not Quite Forever?”

When Five Hundred Tigers Are Not Enough


In my sophomore year at Iowa State University, I sat enthralled in a dark lecture hall as my animal genetics professor described studies done on wild populations of cheetahs that had found that the animals were so genetically similar that they could almost be called clones. Past bottlenecks in the cheetah population meant that and even though population numbers had rebounded, the individuals were so genetically similar that the effective breeding population was much smaller. I was hooked. A week later I changed my major from “Pre-vet” to Genetics. Continue reading “When Five Hundred Tigers Are Not Enough”