According to BBC News, the estimated number of wild tigers worldwide has risen for the first time in over a century. 3,890 tigers have been counted in the latest global census, which is up from the 2010 census that recorded just 3,200 tigers in the wild. This increase is great nonetheless, but it is sad to see that the population was 100,000 in 1990. Poaching, lack of food, destruction of breeding grounds, and locals concerned about their safety are some of the causes of the population decline in the mid-20th century.
“More important than the absolute numbers is the trend, and we’re seeing the trend going in the right direction,” said Ginette Hemley, senior vice-president of wildlife conservation at the WWF.
The wild tiger census was released ahead of a meeting in Delhi this week, where ministers from 13 countries where tigers live met to discuss the population and conservation methods. The conference hopes to double the global tiger population by 2022. While we are hopeful that the numbers indicate a population increase, experts cautioned it could also just indicate improved data gathering. India alone has more than half of the world’s tigers, at 2,226 in the latest estimate.
WWF International’s director general Marco Lambertini said the latest figures showed “that we can save species and their habitats when governments, local communities and conservationists work together”.
Despite the worldwide increase, there has been a rapid decline in Indonesia, where forests are being destroyed to feed global demand for palm oil, pulp, and paper. While there were tiger gains in some countries, the WWF says the future for tigers in Southeast Asia is still unclear. Poaching and increasing deforestation continue to be threats to tigers. Interestingly enough, Cambodia is considering reintroducing tigers to the wild after recently declaring them functionally extinct.
Pictured above is Earth’s largest cat, the Siberian Tiger, which spends 8 months of the year living in the snow. Conservation efforts have made a difference and in the coming years, lets hope we see a trend of a growing population!