While they are beautiful to look at and may be important predators in some ecosystems, it’s probably no more important to protect tigers than any other species, many of them in worse shape in terms of numbers even though they’re less well publicized.
While tigers do get more publicity than many other endangered species, it is not entirely undeserved. As the apex predators in their environment, tigers serve the purpose of keeping herbivore populations in check. If the herbivore species becomes overpopulated they may burn through their food source too quickly, which can cause them to become sick or starve. This is called the cascade effect. An example of this is the overexploitation of otters in the 17th century, up until 1911. Because otters were not around to eat sea urchins, the booming sea urchin population ate all of the kelp that was its food source. As a result, the sea urchins in the area became extinct, as well as other creatures that relied on kelp for food.
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