Caspian Tigers have long been extinct but with the right project, funding, and genetic ties, they could actually do a comeback.
For years, the huge Caspian tiger used to roam in Central Asia but as the 60s ushered in, not a single one can be seen as they’ve gone totally extinct.
However, based on a research published in the Biological Conservation, these cat species may still resurrect through another subspecies having similar genetic makeup. The study suggests capturing some of these subspecies that are native to Russia and transport them to Central Asia.
The World Wildlife Fund is reportedly funding the project.
Caspian tigers weighed as much as 300 pounds on the average, and belong to one of the largest cat species in the world. However, Russia’s colonization of Turkestan had a huge impact on their survival.
The tigers lost their habitats as these were converted into agricultural lands. Food, such as wild pigs, became scarce due to disease and disasters. They were also hunted for sports and recreation.
Based on genetic studies conducted, it was found out that endangered Siberian tigers and the extinct Caspian species shared a common ancestry. Their ancestors used to thrive in Central Asia until such time when part of the streak migrated to the Russian Far East and was later referred to as Siberian tigers. The others, the original Caspian species, failed to migrate and remained in Turkestan.
Currently, there are a few surviving Siberian tigers found in Russian territory, particularly in Sikhote Alin and Primorye. Because of their genetic linkages, experts believe that the surviving Siberian tiger could be the key to breeding back the lost Caspian species.
Project proponents have suggested a site somewhere in Kazakhstan as a possible habitat. The goal is to rebreed about a hundred tigers in a span of five decades. To be able to do this, part of the plan is to reintroduce their natural prey composed of wild boars and deer. Conservation of natural water sources in the area is also a priority.
The Caspian tigers’ comeback is a grand plan but it’s close to possible given the right funding and unfailing commitment from a “species” once responsible for their extinction.