A recent survey reported by The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has confirmed that for the first time in a century, tiger numbers have significantly risen within the global population. It’s now standing at 3,890. Bravo!
Tiger population statistics in 2010 at the Tiger Summit, Russia gave us a sad insight into the state of the species numbering only 3,200, a shocking 97% decline from their former 100,000. The dramatic decrease highlighted the catastrophic impacts of multiple threats that the species faces, such as human-tiger conflict, poaching, habitat loss and prey decline due to over-hunting.
This reality kick brought forth one of the most ambitious and visionary conservation projects to date – the aptly named ‘TX2‘, which aims to double tiger numbers by 2022. The goal is ultimately to use a ‘long term approach’ which encourages trans-boundary compromise between tiger range governments to boost wildlife corridors. Once this is achieved, areas inhabited by tigers can then be protected and injected with resources. This isn’t a short term fix, it’s a real and achievable initiative provided that tiger countries continue to co-operate.
So what does this mean for tigers? Is this actually achievable?
Well optimistically, yes – but oh boy are there going to be challenges. For example the illegal wildlife trade is an increasingly serious threat, driven by aggressive demands for tiger parts with the involvement of organised gangs. If tigers are to stand any chance and continue on this upward peak, governments need to seriously turn their focus towards combating poaching.
However TX2 is not the only plan in place to save these big cats. Non-profit organisation Panthera, devoted to conserving the worlds big cats have two tiger based initiatives in place – Tigers Forever and the Save the Tiger Fund. These initiatives use the same principles and goals as that of TX2, which are to double the global population and also to supply financial/technical support for conservation efforts.
The recent emergence of these larger tiger figures seems like a reassuring pat on the back at what combined efforts can do when implemented properly. However, Panthera’s Senior Tiger Program Director Dr. John Goodrich has stated “There is no scientific evidence of a population increase—we’re just doing a better job of counting them.”. This could indeed be plausible, whose to say the figures from 2010 were entirely accurate? Camera trap technology for example has come a long way since then, as well as the implementation of scientific studies on the species.
Whatever the reason, we can still rejoice at the fact the numbers are not as bleak as we once thought. A wise big cat devotee once said:
‘People are stalking them, people are hunting them, people are taking down the last remnants of their habitat. We can’t let this species go extinct.” – Dr. Alan Rabinowitz (CEO Panthera).
And we won’t – those striped masterpieces of nature aren’t going anywhere. Not on our watch!