Despite gains, on this Tiger Day, we must remain vigilant

Seizure by the army in Langtang, Nepal, Sept 2005 including 5 tiger skins and 113 kg of bones. © Chapagain D./Wildlife Conservation Nepal

With wild tiger populations at such critically low levels, it is no wonder that the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and many peer conservation groups and governmental agencies have maintained focused efforts on tiger protection.

The good news is the results:

Tiger numbers overall are up an estimated 40 percent with documented increases in India and Nepal.

While for years we quoted the total world tiger population as 3,000 or 3,200 individuals, the National Tiger Action Plans now suggest the population range is anywhere from 3,724 to 4,725. (We are expecting updates from Bhutan and Bangladesh by the end of this year and again from India by January 2015). 

But let us not get confused, we still have a very long way to go to.

Even with the current estimates, numbers are still extremely fragile when it comes to the preservation of an iconic species that once numbered 100,000 throughout the whole of Asia.

Years of poaching pressures—resulting from a demand for tiger parts by purveyors of Traditional Chinese Medicine both in and outside of China—and death rates from human-tiger conflicts, habitat encroachment and hunting are quite strong despite our many efforts.

We usually do not talk that much about it, being rather focused to make a difference in the field. But today seems a good time to point at some of what IFAW has done in the last year alone to help tigers:

This Tiger Day, we feel even more encouraged to keep our commitment to protect this highly endangered species from adverse threats to its existence.


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Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy