This Saturday (March 3rd) marks World Wildlife Day and the theme this year is “Big cats, predators under threat.” Tigers are one of those big cats facing a huge population decline, 95% over the last 100 years!

There were nine subspecies of tiger, but in the twentieth century three of them became extinct, the Javan, Bali and Caspian. There are now less than 3,900 tigers from six subspecies remaining in the wild.

Sumatran Tigers are the smallest of all the subspecies and there are estimated to be fewer than 400 of them left in the wild.

Here at Perth Zoo we have two male Sumatran Tigers in our care, 9-year-old Jaya and 14-year-old Dumai. Every day they are seen by many zoo visitors who share our commitment to secure a future for these incredible carnivores.

Tigers may be skilled predators, but they remain vulnerable to the actions of humans. Habitat destruction and poaching are the main threats they face in the wild.

Fallacies around this powerful feline, from traditional medicine, aphrodisiacs, prosperity and affluence, has led to a high demand for products made from several body parts of the tiger.

Tiger farms and illegal poaching of tigers for their skins, bones, teeth and nails has played a significant role in their population decline.

Through partnerships with Frankfurt Zoological Society and TRAFFIC, we are contributing to a better understanding of these animals in the wild and the threats they face from organised crime in Sumatra.

Since 2006, Perth Zoo visitors have helped raise money to protect tigers in the wild by funding anti-poaching patrols in Sumatra. The Zoo also supports a crime analyst position for TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network which strategically fights wildlife crime and gains intelligence regarding the sale of big cat body parts and pelts on the black market.

Donation’s to Perth Zoo’s Wildlife Conservation Action program help to support the valuable work the Zoo’s conservation partners do.

In the Zoo’s African Savannah is another “big cat” to visit on World Wildlife Day, our elderly lioness Shinyanga. There are only about 20,000 lions left in the wild and they’re extinct in 26 African countries, so zoos have a major role in advocating for these apex predators.

Shinyanga, Jaya and Dumai play an important role at Perth Zoo as ambassadors for their ‘big cat’ species.

Watch Dumai enjoying a special enrichment treat from his keepers in the video below!