Climate Change

WWF report highlights tiger population gains for the Year of the Tiger

A tiger in the wild looking straight at the camera.

Tiger populations have increased for the first time in over a century. Image: A G/Unsplash

Paige Bennett
Writer, EcoWatch
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Climate Change

  • The global tiger population is finally increasing after more than a century of gradual decline, a new study from WWF reveals.
  • Since the last Tiger Summit of 2010, several restoration efforts have contributed to the animal's recovery.
  • However, the WWF warns that they still face serious threats, with tigers likely extinct in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

Reported concurrent with the Lunar New Year and Year of the Tiger on February 1, 2022, a study from World Wildlife Fund (WWF) shows that tiger populations are finally showing an increase after more than a century of steady decline.

The study notes that since 2010, or the last Year of the Tiger, tiger populations have increased, in part due to several restoration efforts. During that time, the first Tiger Summit gathered experts to determine ways to conserve tiger populations across 13 countries. The first record of recovering tiger populations happened in 2016, the first uptick in over a century.

“The 2010 Tiger Summit launched an unprecedented set of tiger conservation initiatives,” said Stuart Chapman, head of the Tiger Summit. “The results show what can be achieved through long-term partnerships for species recovery. The dedication of field teams, conservation partners and communities living in tiger territories has led to these extraordinary results.”

In the new Impact on Tiger Recovery 2010-2022 report, WWF outlines tiger conservation successes, including numbers that have tripled in Land of the Leopard, a national park in Russia and a new, designated tiger protected area, the world’s largest, in China.

To improve tiger population numbers, WWF and its partners have implemented several tactics: restoring tiger habitats, combating the illegal wildlife trade and poaching, expanding the tigers’ range and allowing them to safely cross borders between nations, carefully relocating tigers to reserves to improve breeding, and training volunteers on handling human-tiger conflicts, among several other methods.

“India, Nepal, Bhutan, Russia and China have demonstrated what it takes to increase wild tiger numbers and conserve their habitat,” said said Ginette Hemley, senior vice president of wildlife conservation at WWF-US. “As these countries show, the communities living alongside tiger habitats are instrumental stewards of the nature around them and their partnership is vital. Hopefully, the success of these countries will inspire others, particularly in Southeast Asia, to step up efforts to protect wild tigers and secure the species’ future beyond 2022.”

In a recent survey of PT Alam Bukit Tigapuluh (ABT), or The Thirty Hills Forest Company, in Sumatra, WWF and its partners were able to identify five critically endangered Sumatran tigers and 14 other protected species, showing the importance of these conservation areas. Experts believe there could be more Sumatran tigers in the Thirty Hills area.

“The discovery of three adult female and two male tigers along with prey and many other endangered and threatened species shows that the surveyed area is an important habitat for the survival of Sumatran tigers and other wildlife,” said Dody Rukman, CEO of the ABT company.

Have you read?
  • India's tiger population has grown by 6% in the past year
  • This project in India helps people and tigers co-exist peacefully

While the Impact on Tiger Recovery report and the survey of wildlife in Thirty Hills is encouraging for tiger conservation, WWF warns that these animals are still facing serious threats. Tigers are likely extinct in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, and populations faced decline in Malaysia over the past 12 years. Their range is still declining, and WWF estimates their current range to be about 5% of their historic range.

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What is the World Economic Forum doing about nature?

The second Tiger Summit is slated for September 2022 in Vladivostok, Russia. The goal is to determine the next phase of the Global Tiger Recovery Plan, with a focus on setting goals to further expand range and reintroduce tigers to their former habitats.

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Related topics:
Climate ChangeNature and BiodiversityFuture of the EnvironmentChinaIndia
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