Ligers are Grrrrreat...
Dr Bhagavan Antle
Published: February 14, 2016
Ligers are giants because of "hybrid vigor", in which they gain the strengths and attributes of both parents. Ligers are bigger than both their parents combined. Ligers live long, healthy lives. They are very smart and show great resistance to illness and disease.
Contrary to popular belief, ligers are not a "man-made" creation. They are the result of a male lion and a female tiger that have been raised together and decide they like each other enough to breed.
Similar to pizzlies (polar bear / grizzly bear hybrids) and wolphins (whale / dolphin hybrids), ligers may have existed in the wild for thousands of years. Over vast amounts of time and due to declining lion and tiger populations however their territories no longer overlap.
Animals of stunning size and beauty like ligers capture people's attention so they become more willing to learn about critical conservation issues. The unique opportunity to see these incredible animals up close and un-caged gives people a greater understanding and appreciation of all animals.
Ligers and other unique big cats presented in alternative educational programs fill important roles as ambassadors for conservation issues. We have found that after an up-close, un-caged experience with these animals, people are willing to learn about the increasing global issues and possible solutions to save our planet's biodiversity.
Do not be fooled into thinking that conservation traditions that have so often failed are the right way. There is no one right way to do anything. Wildlife will only survive with a million Noah's and a million arks!
For over 25 years as a conservation educator I have reached millions of people through live shows and tens of millions via television. In my experience, the most effective teaching tool is watching big animals like ligers interacting in a personal way with their handlers and friends. It can be a profoundly moving, transformational experience. It puts a personal face on the impersonal statistics of worldwide species destruction. People then become willing to learn about the increasing global issues and possible solutions to save our planet's bio diversity.
We might be too late to save the tiger, in all likelihood that may be beyond hope. Wild tigers are a symbol of the critical danger facing every inhabitant of planet Earth. We are trying to save the worlds last wild environments, restore the health of the seas and reduce atmospheric pollution.
Many conservation efforts in the world's poorer countries fail because they are short sighted and lack the elements that are needed to sustain them over the long term.
Present efforts may not be enough to save all endangered, but ligers with their beauty and physical prowess, are helping to conserve what biodiversity remains by assisting us as conservation ambassadors. The world must REDUCE its consumption, REUSE all that it can and RENEW all the rest or the animals will disappear and we will follow close behind.
Captive breeding programs as well as the sustainable management of wild species as renewable resources must be considered in any discussion of the preservation of critically endangered species.
While some people do not consider ligers as "zoologically significant", their true importance is in getting people's attention and helping to convey the importance of global biodiversity and conservation. Obviously it works. . . . . after all, you are visiting the website and reading this statement.