Wild tiger populations may finally be on the rebound! The world’s tiger count has increased for the first time since 1900, when 100,000 tigers lived in the wild. The last census was taken in 2010, when only 3,200 tigers were counted. The latest count yielded 3,890 tigers. However, experts are stopping short of saying the number of tigers has actually risen. The count may be higher because experts are more aware of tigers, with better survey methods and more areas being surveyed. In any event, it’s a cause for celebration because the count is trending upward and that’s the most important takeaway.
India, Russia, Bhutan and Nepal, countries that have made high level commitments to the cause, have seen an increase in their tiger counts. Countries who are behind in conservation efforts, particularly some of the Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, are not seeing as much progress. Ensuring protected habitats and really cracking down on poaching are important in order for tiger numbers to remain strong and increase in the future. These efforts often require high level political commitment. Even when tigers have become functionally extinct in a region, meaning there are no breeding tigers, there appears to be a solution: Cambodia recently announced a plan to reintroduce tigers to the wild throughout the region.
While there is still a long way to go to doubling the count from 2010, which is what the countries pledged to do at the 2010 Global Tiger Summit, the fact that the count is rising is very promising. The countries involved should feel proud of their efforts and hopefully this news encourages the world to continue on with this fight!