The Javan tiger is a subspecies of tigers that once lived on Java Island in Indonesia until the mid 1970s when it became extinct. In relation to other subspecies of tigers found in Asia, Javan tiger was very small. The Javan Tiger were driven to extinction through rapid population growth that led to an inevitable severe reduction in habitat (Javan, n.d). Deforestation to create room for human settlement and agricultural activities was the result. In addition, tigers were ruthlessly hunted and poisoned as they continued to compete for food with leopards and wild dogs.
In 1940, Javan tiger had been pushed into remote forests and mountain ranges. Some small reserves were created to save them, but they were not adequate, with low prey species. By mid 1950`s about 20-25 tigers were left on Java Island, most of them on the famous Ujong Kulon Wildlife Reserve (Javan, n.d). In the 60`s, all tigers had been eliminated from this reserve and from Buluran National Park (Javan, n.d). The newly formed Meru Betiri National Park which was rugged gave a last chance to about seven Javan tigers but was also not spared from human encroachment, which led to extinction of the Javan tiger.
The extinction of the Javan tiger teaches us many lessons. Forests are an important habitat for thousands of animal and plant species. When we encroach forests for agricultural use or for settlement we need to consider these plants and animals (Dyke, 2008). By considering protecting animals and plants species, we conserve the environment through sustainable development.
In addition, putting animals in a game reserve is not enough. When the Javan tigers were put in Ujong Kulon Game Reserve, it did not help. There was competition for prey species from other animals including leopards and wild dogs, which placed the Javan tiger at a disadvantage, hence its extinction. It is therefore important to safeguard endangered species through other means instead of exposing them to competition with other animals (Mishra & Ottaway, 2010).
Another lesson that can be learnt is that, conservation of endangered species and other animals must involve the entire community. When the Javan tigers were taken to Betiri Meru National Park, encroachment endured. The killing of this species and other animals continued. Ironically, the natives were involved in killing of the Javan tigers, which were regarded as a reincarnation of their ancestors (Javan, n.d). If the conservation approach would have involved the community, the Javan tiger would not be extinct today (Seidensticker, Jackson & Christie, 1999).
In future, there is need to adapt more comprehensive approaches to animal protection. Sensitization of the community about the importance of conservation of wildlife should be key in protecting endangered species (Dyke, 2008). In addition, to policies protecting wildlife, education curriculum should include wildlife and environmental conservation knowledge to encourage children from a tender age to realize and appreciate the importance of wildlife and the environment.
Finally, as we strive towards a green revolution, little has been factored on wildlife conservation, whereas conservation of forests goes hand in hand with wildlife conservation. As such, more effort should be directed towards ensuring regulation of the populations, establishment of sustainable economic, social and political environments (Prins, Grootenhuis & Dolan, 2000). Through integrative approach, animals will be protected and the people will have a healthy environment, hence life.
Dyke, F. (2008). Conservation biology foundations, concepts, applications. Dordrecht London: Springer.
Javan (n.d). The path to extinction. Retrieved http://www.lairweb.org.nz/tiger/javan.html (Accessed October 8, 2013).
Mishra, H. & Ottaway, J. (2010). Bones of the tiger: protecting the man-eaters of Nepal. Guilford, Conn: Lyons Press.
Prins, H., Grootenhuis, J. & Dolan, T. (2000). Wildlife conservation by sustainable use. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Seidensticker, J., Jackson, P. & Christie, S. (1999). Riding the tiger: tiger conservation in human-dominated landscapes. London Cambridge: Zoological Society of London Cambridge University Press.