The number of wild tigers in the world has decreased drastically from 100,000 in 1900 to only around 3,200, as recorded in 2010. Things, however, seem to be turning around, with the World Wildlife Fund reporting an increase in the wild tiger population for the first time in over a century. The news, according to experts, is truly heartening, especially after years of poaching and widespread habitat loss.
Over the centuries, the number of tigers roaming in the wild has undergone a steady decline, hitting an all-time low of just 3,200 in the year 2010. Surveys by WWF and the Global Tiger Forum, for instance, are testament to the dwindling populace of the big cats. In recent decades, however, governments across the world have bolstered their efforts to conserve tigers, joining hands to create safe havens for these majestic creatures.
For the latest global census, researchers had to go through surveys and other data collected by various wildlife conservation groups, national governments as well as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The figure they eventually arrived at is 3,890, which is nearly 700 more than the 2010 estimate. Darren Grover of WWF Australia was reported saying:
That’s great news. It’s the first positive trend for wild tiger populations in more than 100 years. In those 100 years or so we’ve lost around 97 per cent of wild tigers.
According to the experts at WWF, the increase is likely the result of major changes instated in Nepal, India, Bhutan and Russia. These changes, the researchers believe, include more advanced counting techniques as well as targeted conservation efforts. Of the 3,890 currently residing worldwide, as many as 2,226 wild tigers can be found in India alone, from the thick tropical forests of Kerala all the way to the dense swamps in West Bengal. Grover added:
There has also been some fantastic management outcomes and Nepal is a great example of that. I think they’re up to about three years now of no poaching of tigers. That’s a great achievement and shows the level of commitment from the Nepalese Government and the Nepalese people to protect their tiger population.
While the news itself is quite encouraging, the experts believe that there’s still a long way to go. Years of uncontrolled poaching and habitat loss resulting from extensive forest destruction have brought the big cats to the brink of extinction. For instance, Indonesia, a country with the world’s highest rate of deforestation, has reported an alarming decline in its tiger population in recent decades.
Other countries of Southeast Asia are similarly lagging behind when it comes to tiger conservation, so much so that Cambodia has recently announced plans to reintroduce tigers after declaring them extinct inside its territory. Ginette Hemley of WWF said:
More important than the absolute numbers is the trend, and we’re seeing the trend going in the right direction. When you have high-level political commitments, it can make all the difference. When you have well protected habitat and you control the poaching, tigers will recover. That’s a pretty simple formula. We know it works.
Back in 2011, India, Nepal, Russia, along with 10 other nations along the so-called tiger range, came together to set the Tx2 target, which aims at doubling the tiger population by the year 2022. Speaking about the target, Grover said:
We’re on the way towards that target. We’re obviously making progress, but there is still quite some way to go.
According to the 2014 global census, the number of wild tigers by country is as follows:
Bangladesh, 106; Bhutan, 103; Cambodia, 0; China, more than 7; India, 2,226; Indonesia, 371; Laos, 2; Malaysia, 250; Myanmar, no data available; Nepal, 198; Russia, 433; Thailand, 189; Vietnam, fewer than 5.
Via: ABC News