Welcome back to our whirlwind tour of the world. On day three we are leaving the bustling city of Bangkok and adventuring deep into the jungle. This image of the jungle was created by artist Garry Fleming and was simply labelled “In the Jungle.” Fleming is actually an Australian author and illustrator and has won awards for his exquisitely detailed and lifelike images. While the puzzle doesn’t mention a specific location, the tigers reminded me of India. I love tigers. They are probably my most favourite exotic creature and those cubs at the front are just so cute.
India is a megadiverse country. This means it has a high level of biodiversity and is home to a vast range of species that are exclusively indigenous to India. In fact, many of India’s wildlife is said to be descended from those of Gondwana, the southern supercontinent. Unfortunately, the impact of humans has had a significant effect on India’s wildlife, with 172 species, such as the Bengal tiger and the Ganges river dolphin, being listed on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s endangered list.
Just over one fifth of India’s total land area is comprised of forest but India is also home to four of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. A biodiversity hotspot is an area that has been impacted by a significant loss of habitat and there are thirty-four of them around the world. However, in an attempt to preserve its natural environment and indigenous species, India has established over 500 wildlife sanctuaries, 13 biosphere reserves and protected at least 25 wetlands.
As much as I think the tiger cubs are very cute, you wouldn’t want to meet a full-grown Bengal tiger in the wild. Weighing up to 260kg and measuring over two metres in length the Bengal tiger is one of the largest of the big cats. Its canines measure up to 10cm in length which come in quite handy when it grabs its prey by the throat. They tend to be solitary creatures with most family groups consisting of just one female with her cubs.
Tigers used to be so numerous in India at one point that rewards were offered to encourage their slaughter. In 2011 their population was numbered at as little as 2,500 but with a dedicated emphasis on preservation their numbers have slowly grown to just over 3,000 by 2018. However, they remain on the endangered list, as do so many other species, so we must never be complacent. It would indeed be a shame and a terrible indictment on humanity if the only place future generations could see these magnificent creatures is in a zoo.
After our sojourn in the jungle we are heading off to a place almost at the other end of the spectrum, so I hope you will join us for day four as we continue travelling the world – piece by piece.