Is “Extinct” Forever? Central Asia’s Caspian Tiger Traverses the Comeback Trail

Caspian tiger on reedy riverbank.
In reeds tinged red in the Central Asian sun, a tiger once roamed. Will it again? (Illustration: Helmut Diller, WWF)

I imagine a tiger.

He’ll move through the forest and his days

Leaving his traces on the mud banks

Of a river whose name he doesn’t know.

In his world there are no names or past

Or future, only the certainty of now.

—Jorge Luis Borges, The Other Tiger

In reeds tinged red in the Central Asian sun, a tiger once roamed. There, in riparian forests that line rivers like the Vakhsh on the border of the former Soviet country Tajikistan, the Caspian tiger (Panthera tigris virgata) prowled.

Reedy, tangled forests, or tugai, line rivers in Central Asia; tugai was the haunt of the Caspian tiger. (Photograph: Victor Lukarevskii, WWF-Russia)

The tiger stalked Bukhara deer along tugai, thicketed watercourses that flow through Central Asia’s otherwise vast, arid deserts. The tiger’s route took it across shaded rivers and onto muddy banks. Peering into shoreline bracken, the tiger went on. It crawled through a latticework of tangled low shrubs, emerging into the willow and poplar forests favored by the deer.

And into danger.

In the late 19th century, the Russian government instructed its Army to exterminate all —> Read More Here


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *