April 11, 2016

Tigers Are Coming Back!


Terrific news!

After more than a century of unrelenting bad news for tigers in the wild the species is finally beginning to recover from the brink of extinction.

There are an estimated 3,890, an increase on the 3,200 thought to exist in 2010 and the first recorded rise in global numbers. A hundred years ago there were 100,000.

The rise is partly due to better protection of the animals in India, Russia, Nepal and Bhutan but also the result of more accurate surveys.

WWF, the wildlife charity that compiled the numbers from International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) data and recent tiger surveys by some countries, said it was confident that the actual number of wild tigers had risen since 2010. However, it was unable to say by how much.

The new estimate was published on the eve of tomorrow’s tiger conference in Delhi for ministers from the 13 countries that either still have wild tigers or only recently lost them. Last week tigers were declared officially extinct in Cambodia after conservationists said none had been spotted since 2007. They have been wiped out by poaching of both tigers and their prey.

Cambodia now plans to reintroduce up to eight tigers from abroad to the protected forests of Mondulkiri.

Poachers hunt the animals to feed demand in China and elsewhere for their skins and body parts, which have been used in traditional Asian medicine for more than 1,500 years.

Parts from at least 1,590 tigers were seized by law enforcement officials between January 2000 and April 2014, according to Traffic, a monitoring network. The contraband is part of a multi-billion-pound illegal wildlife trade.

India has recorded the biggest increase in tigers since 2010, up more than 500 from 1,706 to 2,226. In Russia, numbers have risen from 360 to 433, Nepal 155 to 198 and Bhutan 75 to 103.

The biggest fall was in Bangladesh, from 440 to 106. WWF said the change was largely the result of an over-estimate in 2010 caused by poor surveying methods rather than an actual decline.

In China the estimated number has fallen from 45 to fewer than seven, though the absence of a recent survey means the actual change is unknown.

The 13 tiger nations agreed in 2014 to carry out full, systematic national surveys by this year but several have so far failed to do so, including Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.
Michael Baltzer, leader of WWF’s tiger campaign, said that a strong action plan for the next six years was vital if the tiger nations were to fulfil their pledge, made at a tiger conference in 2010, to double wild tiger numbers to more than 6,000 by 2022. 

“The global decline has been halted but there is still no safe place for tigers,” he added.

Wild populations
Bangladesh 106
Bhutan 103
Cambodia 0
China >7
India 2226
Indonesia 371
Lao PDR 2
Malaysia 250
Myanmar No data available
Nepal 198
Russia 433
Thailand 189

By Ben Webster

With many thanks to The Australian

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