By:Afra' Fardillah ZaiMustapar
People of all walks of life have a fascination for wildlife, whether children, the elderly, the rich or poor. For instance, a tiger on display would draw attention from far and wide, with some even willing to pay to have a closer look. Such curiosity and willingness to participate on the part of the public have driven wildlife owners to the extremes in showing off their possession. Throughout the world, it is becoming increasingly common for theme parks and recreational areas other than zoos to have tigers on display. In most such places, it is not only the small and unsuitable enclosures that become an issue. Another recent and worrying trend is the declawing of tigers.
Tigers kept for the purpose of entertainment are in some cases subjected to surgery where the claws on their front limbs are removed. The purpose for doing so is to make them easier to handle. It is believed that a declawed tiger is less dangerous and can cause less harm in case of an attack. OftenMost times, these tigers are cared for by laymen and not expert animal handlers. As such, caretakers do not know the proper conduct in approaching a tiger and handling it. An attack in most cases is, thus, caused by the caretaker’s carelessness and lack of knowledge. Tigers are also used in photography sessions in resorts, where visitors can pose a alongside a tiger and have their picture taken. Tigers used in such activities are often declawed for fear they may attack visitors.
The act of declawing a tiger is inhumane. The surgery performed to remove claws is highly risky, and could leave the animal paralyzed for life. In almost all cases, the animal experiences severe pain and discomfort. Such procedures seem to be a futile effort as tigers even without intact claws are capable of causing enough damage to a human. A tiger’s mere push can be violent enough to cause multiple fractures, and a bite to the head or neck region could kill.
Why are unethical veterinary doctors and irresponsible animal owners still carrying out such practices on tigers? Where are government agencies and enforcement efforts in this matter? Tigers are endangered animals and should be protected, not exploited. Laws should exist to ban the display of tigers in recreational areas other than zoos. Permits allowing for possession of wildlife, especially tigers should only be given out to individuals interested in the conservation of the species and not its commercialization. In several countries, for example the US, the act of declawing a tiger is illegal. Similar laws should be enacted in Malaysia, where the possession and use of tigers for entertainment and display is becoming increasingly common. The activities of unscrupulous animal handlers should be curbed to protect a species that is fast dwindling in the wild.