Kathleen began her talk by giving us some facts and figures about the tiger population which were extremely thought provoking. In the last 100 years, 95% of tigers have been wiped out; this is mainly due to habitat loss as a result of urbanisation which has robbed them of their natural surroundings however, poaching and the demand for tiger parts as trophies, status symbols and as an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine has driven the tiger to the brink of extinction with fewer than 4,000 now left in the wild.
Some years ago, the couple adopted a Siberian cross tiger called Ginny who was rescued from a squalid zoo in Belgium by the Born Free Foundation. She was taken to their wild life sanctuary in Kent where she lived with a group of other rescued tigers until 2002 when she and five other tigers were transported by air and road to a jungle enclosure sanctuary in India. Before she left this country, Kathleen and Chris went to visit Ginny in Kent and see for themselves the wonderful work of the Foundation in operation. In 2004 aged 18, Ginny sadly passed away and was buried in the forest however, for the last two years of her life, she had greatly benefitted from the warm Indian climate as well as her own space, peace and privacy.
Despite their loss, Kathleen and Chris have continued to support the Foundation by giving talks to raise awareness of its conservation activities and educational outreach programmes.
On Kathleen’s 60th birthday, there was no party to celebrate the occasion, instead, she organised a litter pick at Spurn Point to fundraise and spread the word. The couple have since adopted a Sumatran tiger called Rocky and continue to highlight some of the campaigns that the Born Free Foundation are associated with both home and abroad.
Thankfully, there are several such conservation groups working hard to save the tiger from extinction because the prospect of losing these magnificent animals within the next ten years looms large.