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Once upon a time, a young child named Douglas had a vision. He dreamed of the magnificent tigers of the world, and learned everything he could about them - both the tigers still in the wild, and tigers in captivity. He was absolutely fascinated with this largest member of the cat family (Felidae, in the order of the meat-eating Carnivoras). Someday, he knew that somehow, he wanted to do something in his life to bring the plight of the tiger to the attention of the world, and to try to save as many of these tigers as he could, giving them back their dignity as they lived out the rest of their days.
According to the Royal Tiger website (www.royaltiger.org), the professional and scientific community reports that there are probably less than 4,000 tigers left living in the wild across Asia today. They are divided into five subspecies:
The Bengal Tiger of India (also known as the Indian Tiger - "Panthera tigris tigris"): with approximately 3,500 to 4,800 left in the wild ranges of India, Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
The Siberian (Amur) Tiger of Russia (also known as the Manchurian Tiger - "Panthera tigris altaica"): with approximately 150 left in the wild and 1200 in zoos around the world. These are the world's largest tigers. A Siberian ( Amur ) tiger can weigh more than 700 pounds and reach 13 feet from tail to tip of nose. They have a thick layer of fat on their belly and long hair to protect them from extreme cold.
The South China Tiger of China (also known as the Amoy Tiger - "Panthera tigris amoyensis"): with approximately only 40 remaining in the wild and 35 in Chinese zoos. This tiger is believed to be a direct descendant of the original tigers of one million years ago.
The Indochinese Tiger of Southeast Asia (also known as the Corbetti Tiger - "Panthera tigris corbetti"): with approximately 1000 left in the wild ranges of Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma and Malaysia.
The Sumatran Tiger of Indonesia ("Panthera tigris sumatrae"): with approximately 400 to 500 tigers in the wild left, spread between five of the national parks located on the island of Sumatra, in Indonesia.
The three other subspecies of tigers -- the Bali tiger ("Panthera tigris balica"), the Javan tiger ("Panthera tigris sondaica") and the Caspian tiger ("Panthera tigris virgata") have all gone extinct just within the past 75 years.
There is no more beautiful creature on Earth than the Tiger.
Some of the things that this child learned about the tiger which fascinated him so much are that physically, tigers have intense yellow eyes, with the exception of the White Tiger, which has blue eyes. Tigers have a night vision that is about 8 times as powerful as that of humans. Tigers have claws that are retractable, just like those of domestic house cats. Tiger paw print tracks are referred to as "pug" marks. Interestingly, the striping pattern of each individual tiger is totally unique and differentiates that tiger from all others. It is believed that the pattern of stripes serves the tiger as camouflage in the wild. The Siberian Tiger has the least amount of stripes in its pattern, while the Sumantran Tiger has the most stripes in its pattern. Most tigers have an orange color to their coat, with the White Tiger being the exception again. White tigers usually have dark brown to black stripes against their white pelted background. Average tail length for all tigers is 3 to 4 feet.
While captive tigers in well-kept zoos can live up to 20 years, the average life of a tiger in the wild is only about 10 years. The length of the tiger's fur is dependent upon the climate of the area in which they reside. Tigers who live in cold climates, such as the Siberian Tiger, can have quite long fur, while their fellow sub-species tigers who live in warm, southern climates can have quite short fur.
Tigers are much more solitary predators than lions, and basically live alone except when a mother tiger is raising her young cubs. The size of a tiger's territory will depend upon how much food is available within it, and can vary from 15 to 35 square miles. When food is scarce, such as in the Siberian Tiger's natural habitat, the territory of a tiger can be up to 125 square miles. Usually, a single male tiger's territory will include several female tigers' territories. Tigers mark their territory by leaving their urine scent on bushes and trees around the perimeter of their territory, and also by leaving scratch marks on trees.
The little boy who loved tigers so much has grown up to be a passionate, responsible and caring adult. Following is our discussion with Douglas A. Hertweck, founder and president of the Royal Tiger Preservation corporation, a 501 (c) (3) charitable corporation.
OUR INTERVIEW & DISCUSSION
HDW: Douglas, thank you for this opportunity to speak with you about your personal interest in saving the tiger, and about the charitable corporation you have founded, the Royal Tiger Preservation, Inc. I guess first of all, we'd really like to hear more about what it was that originally brought the plight of the tiger to your attention??
DOUGLAS A. HERTWECK: It goes back to when I was a child. I was always interested in tigers and spent much of my free time studying every aspect of captive and wild tiger psychology, biology, behavior and habitat. When I reached high school, I had an environmental science teacher who inspired all of his students that if we tried, each one of us could make an impact on the environment no matter the shape, form, or size. This thought stayed with me for years until I had an opportunity to put all my knowledge and experience to work.
HDW: Could you tell us a bit about that big step that you took, from wanting to do something positive for the tiger, to actually researching and starting your own charitable corporation??
DOUGLAS A. HERTWECK: After four years of hands-on experience, donating my time, energy and money to other organizations that rescue exotics, combined with my fifteen years of studying the psychology, biology, behavior, habitat and plight of both the wild and captive tiger, I felt confident that I could take it one step further by incorporating. I was fortunate enough to have two friends, one is a lawyer and the other is an accountant. They both donated their time and services to get Royal Tiger incorporated as a 501 (c) (3) charitable corporation.
HDW: What is the actual mission of Royal Tiger Preservation, Inc.??
DOUGLAS A. HERTWECK: Royal Tiger Preservation, Inc.'s mission is to educate the public regarding the plight and circumstances related to the disposition and care of tigers in the United States once they are no longer adequately cared for by their owners. Royal Tiger Preservation, Inc. will also provide a location and facility for the long term care of tigers that cannot be returned back into their natural habitat.
HDW: In the short amount of time RTP has been incorporated, where do you stand today with regards to your mission??
DOUGLAS A. HERTWECK: Since incorporation, RTP has been financially supporting two Siberian tigers that were rescued from an organization that went bankrupt. They are being held at a privately owned qualified holding facility awaiting relocation to the permanent facility proposed by Royal Tiger Preservation, Inc. RTP has also been in negotiations to procure 160 acres of land, which contains rolling meadows, rock outcroppings, a lodge pole pine forested area, and a stock pond. It's an ideal location for tigers to live out the rest of their natural lives.
HDW: We realize that achieving funding is absolutely critical at this stage of your project and vision, and will be demanding much of your time and efforts. Since you are a charitable corporation, ALL DONATIONS ARE FULLY TAX DEDUCTIBLE!! Once RTP has achieved full funding, what will your primary organization objectives be??
DOUGLAS A. HERTWECK: Once fully funded, RTP will educate the public on the plight of tigers by: 1) Providing veterinarian colleges access to study the biology and behavior of tigers; 2) Sponsoring community educational and out-reach programs; 3) Forming cooperative alliances with government authorities and top professionals in tiger care and conservation; 4) Providing a living "genetic insurance policy" against extinction; 5) Supporting Tiger Species Survival Plan (TSSP) participant organizations.
HDW: Douglas, thank you so very much for sharing this information with us. Please let our readers know how they may reach you to find out more information, to offer assistance, to contribute funds or time, or just to contact you.
DOUGLAS A. HERTWECK: We can be reached through our website, at www.royaltiger.org, or by e-mail at: email@example.com.
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