New Study Brings Hope for Tigers on the Brink

Tigers might be one of the world’s most iconic big cats, but they continue to face a number of threats to their survival in the wild. Now, however, a new study is offering more hope for their recovery.

By 2010, poaching and habitat loss had driven the global population of tigers in the wild down to an estimated all-time low of 3,200 individuals, who occupied just five percent of their historic range. In response to their alarming decline, 13 tiger range countries made an ambitious commitment to double the population by 2022, a goal that became known as Tx2.

Now, according to a new study just published in the journal PLOS One, while the goal may not be met by then, tigers do have the potential to triple in size within a human generation in key recovery sites across Asia if the right conservation efforts are implemented.

For the study, an international team of conservation experts from 10 tiger range countries assessed the recovery potential of 18 sites from the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Tiger’s Alive Initiative, which is aimed at achieving Tx2.

They found that those sites, which are currently home to 165 (118-277) tigers, have the potential to hold as many as 585 (454-739) individuals, which would be a 15 percent increase in the total population.

However, each site is going to require different actions on our part, while stable prey populations along with ways to reduce conflicts with us, are going to be major factors involved in successful tiger recovery.

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution for tiger recovery,” said Ginette Hemley, Senior Vice President for Wildlife Conservation at WWF-US. “We know tigers will rebound in time if protected from poaching and if given enough habitat to roam, prey to eat and intact corridors to breed in, but no two sites are the same. This study provides a better understanding of what each site needs in order to harbor a healthy tiger population and where we can make the greatest impact.”

While Tx2 might not be reached by 2022, there are still four more years to go and the study offers hope that the target could still be hit if range countries implement conservation actions now. In a statement, WWF cited Nepal as a recent success for becoming the first tiger range country to reach its goal by nearly doubling its population since 2009 thanks to its political commitment and the innovative approaches it’s taken to help them.

“Each tiger site is unique and requires intensive efforts based on specific plans that are relevant at the site level. This study has clearly laid out different components of a tiger recovery system, with a special focus on recovery sites – areas with high potential for long-term recovery of wild tiger populations. Our assessment serves as a template to guide planning for population recovery in other sites globally and helps to inform more effective, integrated approaches to tiger conservation,” said Dr. Abishek Harihar, the study’s lead author and population ecologist at Panthera.

Photo credit: Getty Images

65 comments

Marie W
Marie W18 days ago

Thanks for posting

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Jack Y
Jack Y5 months ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y5 months ago

thanks

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John J
John J5 months ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John J5 months ago

thanks for sharing

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rachel ramah
Past Member 7 months ago

Thank you!

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heather g
heather g7 months ago

There's something very wrong with a culture which has no respect for wild animals - in fact, all animals, birds, etc.

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Ruth G
Ruth G7 months ago

WELL LETS HOPE ITS PLANS ARE ENFORCED! AND WATCH OUT FOR EVIL CHINA WHO IS STILL ALLOWING TIGER TRADE FOR BONE WINE. FINGERS CROSSED!

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Martin H
Martin H7 months ago

Important.

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danii p
danii p7 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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