AboutZoos, Since 2008


Tigers roar back, great news for these big cats

pub­lished 26 Decem­ber 2012 | mod­i­fied 26 Decem­ber 2012

Amurtiger sredneussuriiskyThe Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Soci­ety (WCS) announced today sig­nif­i­cant progress for tigers in three key land­scapes across the big cat’s range due to bet­ter law enforce­ment, pro­tec­tion of addi­tional habi­tat, and strong gov­ern­ment partnerships.

The good new for tigers in India, Thai­land and Rus­sia is as fol­lows:
- Indian tiger num­bers soar in West­ern Ghats
- Thai­land sees record tiger num­bers in key pro­tected area
- Rus­sia devel­ops new anti-​poaching laws and pro­tected areas

The suc­cesses are much-​needed good news as tiger num­bers world­wide con­tinue to hover at all-​time lows due to the com­bined threat of poach­ing, loss of prey, and habi­tat destruc­tion. WCS esti­mates that only 3,200 tigers exist in the wild.

I am con­fi­dent that our con­ser­va­tion model of com­bin­ing solid sci­ence with pas­sion­ate local advo­cacy and effec­tive gov­ern­ment col­lab­o­ra­tion demon­strates prac­ti­cally how tigers can be brought back in emer­gent Asia.

WCS sci­en­tist Ullas Karanth »

The news begins in south­west­ern India where WCS research and con­ser­va­tion efforts that began 25 years ago now show a major rebound of tigers in the West­ern Ghats region of Kar­nataka State. Over 600 indi­vid­u­als have been iden­ti­fied to date from cam­era trap pho­tos dur­ing the last decade in this moun­tain­ous land­scape. In Nagara­hole and Bandipur National Parks, tigers have actu­ally reached sat­u­ra­tion lev­els, with sur­plus young tigers spilling out into forest-​reserves and dis­pers­ing using secured for­est cor­ri­dors through a land­scape that holds over a mil­lion human beings. The com­bi­na­tion of strict government-​led anti-​poaching patrols, vol­un­tary relo­ca­tion of vil­lages away from tiger habi­tats, and the vig­i­lant local pres­ence of WCS con­ser­va­tion part­ners watch­ing over tigers has led to the rebound of big-​cat pop­u­la­tions and their prey. In newer tiger reserves includ­ing Bhadra and Kudremukh, num­bers have increased by as much as 50 per­cent after years of neglect and chronic poach­ing were tack­led.

In Thai­land, WCS con­ser­va­tion­ists report a tiger come­back in Huai Kha Khaeng (HKK) Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary — a 2,700 square kilo­me­tre (1,042 square mile) pro­tected area in the vast West­ern For­est Com­plex. WCS has worked closely with Thai author­i­ties to beef up enforce­ment and anti-​poaching patrols in the region. Last year, a noto­ri­ous poach­ing ring was busted, and this year the gang lead­ers were given prison sen­tences of up to five years — the most severe pun­ish­ments for wildlife poach­ing in Thailand’s his­tory. Since their cap­ture, there have been no known tiger or ele­phant poach­ing inci­dents in the park. Tiger num­bers have been ris­ing steadily in the park since 2007, with a record 50-​plus tigers counted last year.

Mean­while in Rus­sia, gov­ern­ment offi­cials are draft­ing a new law that will make trans­port, sales, and pos­ses­sion of endan­gered ani­mals a crim­i­nal offense rather than just a civil crime. This will close a loop­hole that cur­rently allows poach­ers to claim they found endan­gered species like tigers already dead and thus avoid stiffer crim­i­nal penal­ties for poach­ing.
Rus­sia is mak­ing progress in cre­at­ing addi­tional pro­tected areas for tigers, too, declar­ing a new cor­ri­dor called Cen­tral Ussuri Wildlife Refuge on Octo­ber 18. The new refuge acts as a link­age between the Sikhote-​Alin tiger pop­u­la­tion in Rus­sia, which is the main pop­u­la­tion of Amur tigers, and some of the best tiger habi­tat in China’s Hei­longjiang Province in the Wan­dashan Moun­tains. The cre­ation of the new refuge ensures that tigers have the capac­ity to move across the inter­na­tional bor­der between Russ­ian and China in this region. WCS first iden­ti­fied this key cor­ri­dor in 1999 after con­duct­ing joint wildlife sur­veys with Chi­nese and Russ­ian sci­en­tists there.

Tigers are clearly fight­ing for their very exis­tence, but it’s impor­tant to know that there is hope. Vic­to­ries like these give us the resolve to con­tinue to bat­tle for these mag­nif­i­cent big cats. While the news about tigers has been bleak, these recent devel­op­ments clearly show how smart strate­gies and strong part­ner­ships are ensur­ing tigers are saved for cen­turies to come.
(WCS Pres­i­dent and CEO Cristián Sam­per)

John Robin­son, WCS Exec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent of Con­ser­va­tion and Sci­ence said: “Sav­ing tigers is clearly a team effort. Today’s vic­to­ries show that through col­lab­o­ra­tion with gov­ern­ments, law enforce­ment, fel­low con­ser­va­tion­ists, and local peo­ple, we can save these big cats across their range.”

WCS is look­ing to repli­cate these suc­cesses in other parts of the tiger’s range. WCS has over 300 peo­ple work­ing on the ground to con­serve tigers in the most impor­tant tiger sites in seven of the ten remain­ing coun­tries with tigers. WCS col­lab­o­rate with local gov­ern­ments and part­ners to imple­ment a suite of proven tiger con­ser­va­tion inter­ven­tions, includ­ing improved law enforce­ment and enlarg­ing and con­sol­i­dat­ing tiger habi­tat, that are tai­lored to each spe­cific coun­try and site.

(Source: WCS press release, 26.12.2012)

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WWF Stop Wildlife Crime
Fight for Flight campaign
End Ivory-funded Terrorism
Support Rewilding Europe
NASA State of Flux

Goal: 7000 tigers in the wild

Tiger range countries map

Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.

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