William Blake wrote a Poem in the late 1700s called Tiger. Its first two lines are:
Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night….
In a nut shell, it questions how the hand of god can create something as gentle and mild as the lamb, but also something as terrifying and deadly as the tiger. How and why does God do this? Also while he is at it, Blake begs the question, why are things that are so deadly so beautiful?
Well I don’t know! But Tigers are really quite something. William Blake’s poem leaves us with the impression of a tiger that can roam at will in its own habitat.
Well sadly the tiger is one of the most threatened species on the planet. Two subspecies are already extinct, the Bali tiger and the Javan tiger.
The six remaining subspecies are all classified as endangered by IUCN, and the Sumatran Tiger, which is found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is critically endangered, with only 500-600 individuals in the wild.
So why are tigers in this mess? Habitat degradation, deforestation and poaching. Tigers are naturally solitary and each one requires his/her own manor, so to speak. Each animal has its own territory and they get very upset if another tiger walks into its backyard. There is some toleration and indeed some territories of tigers overlap, but as you can appreciate, tigers need space and plenty of it. However, that need for space does not fit well with the sprawl of humankind across the planet.
Illustration in progress. Tiger in its natural habitat.
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With the exception of artists, inventors, and teenagers - we humans are diurnal daytime creatures on the whole, and although it’s one thing to be out and about during the night in a street lit urban environment, it’s a very different scenario if you find yourself in, say… oh, I don’t know, a forest per se. Where, if you’re lucky, you may hear the unmistakable cry or hoot of an Owl: natures very own nocturne, a stark reminder of the unknown peril of night, and a creature that has featured heavily in myth and folklore throughout the ages.