How the Tiger Lost Its Stripes: An Exploration into the Endangerment of a Species

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9780151002795: How the Tiger Lost Its Stripes: An Exploration into the Endangerment of a Species

"The tiger is in no danger of extinction." With that surprising statement begins this in-depth look at the endangerment of one of the most majestic and elusive animals still to roam the planet. But if the tiger is in no danger of extinction, then isn't a book on its endangerment an oxymoron? No, not if we consider that although we will be able to see tigers in any number of captive circumstances - circuses, zoos, animal parks - events conspire to eliminate the few remaining "pure" species of tiger from their wild habitats. Working from firsthand interviews with tiger conservationists in zoos and biologists in the wild, with practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine making a living with ground tiger bone, with scientists steeped in the politics of global animal conservation, journalist Meacham offers a compelling examination of how the tiger's fate is being played out both on an international and a local scale. Exploring the role of captive breeding programs that debate the possibility of reintroducing the tiger to the wild, discussing the differences between conservation and preservation, weighing the demerits of eco-imperialism and the merits of eco-tourism, Meacham presents us with the most balanced view yet on the tiger and leads us to the major questions: Can the tiger survive in its natural surroundings? What is "wild" in a world where human influence extends to the atomic level? And, most important, what is the value of wildness?

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From the Back Cover:

"After a comprehensive summary of the status of tigers in the wild and in captivity, Meacham leads us into some of the most difficult and chilling questions that conservationists may ever face. To save wild tigers, do we raise captive tigers that can satisfy Asia's insatiable demand for tiger parts? A demonic question, surely, but one we cannot avoid. Like most of us, I have kept my head in the sand on this one. When I read Meacham's book, my heart froze." -Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Tribe of Tiger: Cats and Their Culture, and The Hidden Life of Dogs

"A marvelous account of the predicament faced by one of the Earth's most beautiful creatures and, by extension, the rest of the world's endangered species. How the Tiger Lost Its Stripes is brave, thoughtful, and, above all, honest." -Charles C. Mann, coauthor of Noah's Choice: The Future of Endangered Species

From Kirkus Reviews:

How has the tiger come by its sorry endangered status, and what are its odds for survival? These are the questions posed and answered in this evenhanded, at times abrasive, account from an environmental journalist. Meacham opens by going for the jugular with the pronouncement that the ``tiger is in no danger of extinction.'' They breed like bunnies, even in captive settings. But there is the rub: With the combined effects of poaching and habitat loss, perhaps the only tigers to remain in the future will be in captive settings. ``Their survival as a life-form does not depend upon the survival of their habitat. Only their wildness does.'' That wildness is very important to Meacham, so he goes about considering the avenues open to protect the big cat from a life behind bars: Issues of genetic diversity and conservation biology are plumbed, as are artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization and the threats posed by traditional Chinese medicine and its fondness for powdered tiger bone and tiger penis soup. He probes the notions of animal rights and welfare; the work of preservationists (protecting tigers from humans) and conservationists (protecting them for humans); the problems of use value and nonuse value; the heavy moral baggage that comes with tiger farming (he presents a convincing argument that this will not diminish poaching) and hunting. Meacham's suggestions for ways to allow a remnant tiger population to persist in the wild aren't particularly inspired: Protect habitat, gather raw data, learn if reintroduction works, generate international support, find the political will. And his rock throwing at various friends of the tiger will get him nothing but a sour reputation--though his heart is in the right place. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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