Global tiger population

Bengal or Royal Bengal Tiger - 2; pix SShukla; Chandigarh; January 2011

Driven largely by conservation successes in India, Russia, and Nepal, the global population of tigers in the wild has shown a significant increase in the past few years, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reports (April 2016) in a new survey. The study estimates that there are now 3,890 wild tigers, up from 3,200 in 2010, when countries announced a historic commitment to double the population by 2022. Countries appear to be heading toward their goal, and this is the first time tiger numbers have been increasing globally in more than a hundred years.

The conservation group compiled the data based on rigorous national surveys conducted by several countries, including India and Bangladesh, as well as on estimates by independent scientists from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the world’s authority on biodiversity conservation. Such estimates were necessary in countries where no formal tiger surveys have been done, including China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Myanmar.

Success Stories

MalayanTiger at National Zoo Malaysia (CC BY 3.0)Two-thirds of the world’s tigers live in India, where they’ve increased from 1,706 to 2,226 during the past five years. The country has stepped up anti-poaching patrols and offers compensation to farmers or villagers who experience injury or loss from tigers, as a means of preventing retaliatory killings. India has also invested in sustainable tourism around tiger reserves, a model that seems to be working so well that officials are talking about expanding the reserve system. “India is investing unprecedented resources in tigers, and now we can see those investments are paying off,” says Ginette Hemley, senior vice president for conservation at WWF.

A similar situation is seen in Nepal, where tigers have rebounded by 60 percent, to 198, thanks to efforts to curtail poaching. Tigers have also shown growth in Russia (from 360 to 443) and Bhutan (from 75 to 103), thanks to strong commitments from those national governments, according to Hemley.

Trouble Spots

In Bangladesh, the number of tigers counted fell from 440 to 106. But Hemley believes that’s likely because a new government survey yielded a more accurate count rather than because there was an actual decline in tiger numbers. At the low end of the spectrum, the new report estimates only seven wild tigers in China, five in Vietnam, two in Laos, and none in Cambodia.

Indonesia and Malaysia are important to the long-term survival of the species, Hemley says, but those countries are besieged by poaching and development—often illegal—that degrades tiger habitat. Neither has yet conducted a national survey, and estimates are rough: 371 tigers in Indonesia, 250 in Malaysia.

Trade in tiger products is banned in most of the world, and yet a black market persists. For tigers to assuredly get on more stable ground, demand for their skins and other parts must be curtailed in Asia, particularly China, the report advises. WWF and others have been working on awareness campaigns, as well as on efforts with law enforcement to step up prosecution of traffickers.

India and Nepal have shown considerable progress in reducing the number of tigers smuggled out, in part by sharing resources across borders, Hemley says.

Conservationists have worked with leaders of Traditional Chinese Medicine to reduce the amount of tiger products going into treatments, which scientists say don’t work anyway. At the same time, however, new black markets have emerged in China for shampoos, tonics, and tchotchkes made of tigers, often as status symbols.

India has also shown how development can benefit people while minimizing impact on tigers, the report notes. Roads have been routed around reserves, and engineers are designing tunnels and overpasses to help tigers move through the landscape with fewer risky interactions with people. The overall message is one of cautious hope, Hemley says. “The fact that tiger numbers are up is significant, but we still have a long ways to go.”

Bangladesh

In 2010 there were 200 to 419 tigers in Bangladesh, most them were in the Sunderbans the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world. The name Sunderban can be literally translated as “beautiful jungle or forest” in Bengali and Hindi languages (‘Sunder‘- “beautiful” and ‘ban‘ – forest or jungle).

Indo-Chinese tiger ( GFDLicense, Version 1.2)The forest lies in the vast delta on the Bay of Bengal formed by the super confluence of the Padma, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers across Saiyan southern Bangladesh. The forest covers approximately 10,000 sq.km of which about 6,000 is in Bangladesh and rest is in India.

Bhutan

Bhutan where the estimated number of tigers was 67 to 81, scientists there have evidence of a richer tiger population than previously estimated. Camera traps snapped photos of wild tigers high in Himalayas, at the surprising elevation of 13,000 feet (4,000 m). This offers new possibilities for suitable tiger habitat.

Over the past century tiger numbers have fallen dramatically, with a decreasing population trend. Habitat losses and the extremely large-scale incidences of poaching are serious threats to the species’ survival. The extent of area occupied by tigers is estimated at less than 1,184,911 square kilometres (457,497 sq mi), a 41% decline from the area estimated in the mid-1990s.

Nepal

The number of adult tiger has reached 155 (5 per cent of world population) in Nepal’s forests, an increase of 28% over last year’s population, a top official declared on 29th July 2010.

The tiger population grew after tiger census was conducted in the Chure area of Chitawan National Park, which was skipped during last year’s census, according to Coordinator of the Tiger census 2010 Bivash Pandav, an Indian national, who is working under World Wildlife Fund Nepal office in Kathmandu.

The number of adult tiger has reached 155 in Nepal’s forests which is an increase of 28%, announced Gopal Prasad Upadhyaya, director general of Department of National Park’s and Wildlife Conservation.

Though this not an increase in tiger population in actual term, but the number has also not declined in the region, he said. In Chitawan National Park located in central Nepal alone, 125 tigers were recorded.

Last year only 91 tigers were found when the census was carried out only in the lowland of the tiger reserve.

The total adult tiger population of 155 (124 to 229) was arrived at after adding other tiger populations from Bardia, Shuklaphanta and Parsa reserves.

The census was done through the latest process of camera trapping which required 3,582 human days and 170 elephant days, according to experts at WWF Nepal.

The monitoring of tiger was done from December 7, 2009 to March 22, 2010. As per the census it is estimated that the tiger area of Nepal has 6.53 adult tigers in 100 km area, which is a good population for breeding purposes, say experts.

WWF Nepal has provided Nepal government with $51,351 to carry out the tiger census. This means Nepal is home to nearly 5 per cent of tiger in the wild worldwide which is estimated to be 3,200.

There are 13 tiger range countries in the world including Nepal, India, China and Myanmar. The tiger range countries have been working together to conserve the endangered wild animal tiger, to make the number double or around 7,000 in next Year for Tiger 2022.

Nepal government is also committed to double the tiger population to 250 by the year 2022, said minister for forest Dipak Bohara. The government is committed to control poaching, increase tiger habitat and prey animals with a view to double the tiger population in the next 12 years, he said.

Once a royal hunting reserve, Chitwan became a national park in 1973. New economic incentives give villagers a direct stake in this renowned tourist attraction, with more than a third of revenues from park entrance fees being returned to the 300,000 people living in 36 villages in the surrounding buffer zone. As a result, locals are now creating and managing tiger habitat and consider themselves guardians of their tigers.

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