Keeping tabs on the status of the world’s plants and animals since 1948, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species continually evaluates the extinction risk of countless species. Their 2008 assessment found that approximately 1,141 of the Earth’s 5,487 mammals are under threat of extinction, and among the most critically vulnerable are multiple types of tigers. Despite several decades of increased conservation efforts around the world, these strikingly beautiful big cats continue to be prized for their body parts which are to this day still used in traditional Chinese medicine along with their pelts, which poachers receive a pretty penny for.
Given the precarious position that tigers are in (there are only 3,200 wild cats believed to be remaining in the wilderness), one has to question the common sense exercised by stylists who thought it would be a brilliant idea to feature Singapore actress Wong Li-Lin in the pages of 8 Days magazine wearing the skin of this iconic and highly endangered species. In addition to glamorizing fur as an acceptable form of fashion, the Singapore branch of the World Wide Fund For Nature is angered that the photo spread could potentially “encourage the wrong type of behavior” and is requesting a formal printed apology from the publisher of the periodical. Interestingly, MediaCorp has not yet acknowledged any wrongdoing, nor have they revealed whether the photographed tiger pelt was real or synthetic.
This comes on the heels of a few high-profile conservation efforts that have been launched in just the past several weeks alone. The Indonesian government’s intriguing concept to help save Sumatran tigers entails offering concerned (and apparently affluent) citizens the opportunity to adopt captive cat-couples for $100,000. The WWF, on the other hand, has teamed up with the World Bank and the Russian government to declare 2010 the year of the tiger. In addition to providing educational resources and action campaigns that global citizens can participate in via WWF’s website, they intend to maximize their efforts with regard to tiger habitat preservation.