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Chinese Year of the Tiger begins

February 14, 2010 - WORLD

The Year of the Tiger begins 14 Feb 2010 and ends 1 Feb 2011. The birth sign for power and luck, it falls every 12th year of the Chinese calendar. China is more fortunate than its tigers -- the last sighting was 25 years ago -- and these striped cats are unlucky everywhere. They are protected but still hunted, and their habitat is disappearing. The tigers' year promises to heat up fundraising and political efforts to save them from extinction. It also puts the luck of famous and infamous Tigers under the spotlight.

In 2010, International Tiger Day falls on 26 Sep. Thought to be the ancestor of all tigers, according to the World Wildlife Fund, the South China subspecies was estimated to number 4,000 in the early 1950s. But following decades of extermination as a pest, the subspecies is believed by many scientists to be 'functionally extinct.'; A few individuals may remain, according to the WWF, but hope for their survival is slim as there is neither adequate habitat nor prey left. China's luck appears to be in, and its economic juggernaut is gaining on Japan, according to the New York Times. In a piece about China's on its 60th anniversary, the NYT noted that it appears likely to take over from Japan as the world's second-biggest economy. The biggest economy remains the United States. The luck of one of the most famous Tigers -- Tiger Woods -- appears to be out for the present. Reconstructive knee surgery took the golfer out of competition for a year, his comback in the 2009 season did not produce wins in the four major championships, and he is enmeshed in very public marital problems. The luck of the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka appears to be out permanently. Infamous in Sri Lanka and India, at least, and a separatist group of the Tamil minority, the Tigers set up jungle bases in the north and east of Sri Lanka and the southern districts of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu 25 years ago to take on the Sri Lankan government. Hostilities between the two sides reached a critical point late in 2008, and the Tigers took heavy losses. The Sri Lankan military declared victory over the rebels in May after the army wiped out their entire leadership. The luck of Tamil civilians is also out. Tens of thousands were confined to government refugee camps, in reportedly grim conditions, since the defeat, and resettlement is proceeding slowly. UPDATED Jan/10

Chinese calendar

World Wildlife Fund tiger page

21st Century Tiger

Phoenix Fund

China's economic juggernaut seen gaining on Japan (New York Times 1 Oct 2009)

Tiger Woods is happy with his season (LA Times 28 Sep 2009)

Sri Lanka's war on the Tamil Tigers: how 25 years of violence ended (15 Sep 2009)

Date written/update: 2010-02-14