It’s #WorldRainforestDay! Several of the animals we care for at Carolina Tiger Rescue are species native to rainforests around the world, so it’s important to do what we can to protect their native habitats. Rainforests play a vital role in the survival of the planet. They are responsible for the production of 20% of the oxygen we breathe and the freshwater we drink, and play a number of other important roles including stabilizing climate patterns, absorbing carbon dioxide, and housing approximately half of the world’s plant and animal species.

Unfortunately, our rainforests are being cut down in favor of agricultural and other development projects, endangering biodiversity and the health of the planet. Deforestation also contributes to 15% of global carbon emissions. This can be changed, however. By protecting the rainforests we have left and working to restore what has been lost, we can reverse global emissions by a third.

Carolina Tiger Rescue is home to tigers, cougars, kinkajous, an ocelot, and coatimundis, and also works to protect jaguars and other rainforest-dwelling cat species. Tigers are an apex predator, keeping prey species in check so populations don’t get out of control. The presence of tigers in rainforests are a sign of healthy ecosystems, but the deforestation of rainforests in Southeast Asia have contributed significantly to the decline in wild tiger populations. Cougars (or pumas) are highly adaptable and can be found in rainforests where they play a similar role as tigers and jaguars, serving as apex predators that keep ecosystems in balance. Kinkajous are small mammals that mostly live in the treetops, snacking on fruit and nectar and foraging for insects and other sources of food at night. They are very important pollinators, spreading flower nectar from plant to plant as they forage. Ocelots play an important role in their native ecosystems, serving as predators for smaller species, and prey for larger ones. While populations have risen thanks to conservation efforts, groups in certain areas are being threatened by habitat loss. Coatimundis help control insect, reptile, and amphibian populations in the wild, and serve as an important food source for larger predators.

We want to do what we can to protect what’s left of our rainforests and help save remaining wild populations of tigers, kinkajous, ocelots, coatis, jaguars, and more! Here’s how you can help:

1. Donate to rainforest protectors – visit www.worldrainforestday.org for a list of organizations.

2. Eat a meatless meal – beef production is the largest cause of deforestation in the Amazon.

3. Don’t purchase products containing palm oil – palm oil production is the largest cause of deforestation in tropical Southeast Asia.

4. Travel smart to reduce your carbon footprint (e.g. purchase carbon offsets if you fly somewhere).

5. Support leaders and legislation that work to protect rainforests and promote sustainable development.

Please visit www.worldrainforestday.org to learn more about how you can help protect rainforests, and visit our website at www.CarolinaTigerRescue.org to learn more about some of the native rainforest species we care for at the sanctuary!

Statistics provided by @World Rainforest Day

📸: Mona Tiger, Macano Coatimundi, Magoo Ocelot, Albert Kinkajou