The most comprehensive scientific study of tiger habitats ever completed has discovered that they have disappeared from 40 percent of their range of 10 years ago, and now only occupy only 7% of their historic range.
The research was commissioned by the Save The Tiger Fund and undertaken by many of the world’s leading tiger specialists at the WWF, the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Save The Tiger Fund. The study calls for specific actions to safeguard the surviving populations. The research shows that conservation initiatives like protection from poaching, conservation of prey species and preserving the tigers’ natural habitat have resulted in some populations remaining stable or even increasing. But it states that long-term success can only be achieved by wide ranging conservation vision across many boundaries.
See the leatest reports of tiger poaching. ‘The report documents a nadir for tigers, and plots a way forward to reverse the trend,’ stated John Robinson of the Wildlife Conservation Society. ‘We can save tigers forever. However, tiger conservation requires commitment from local partners, governments and international donors; along with effective, science-based conservation efforts to bring the species back to all parts of its biological range.’
Utilising land use information, maps of human influence, and on-the-ground studies of tigers, the study identifies seventy six ‘tiger conservation zones’, places and habitats where tiger populations have the best chance of a long term future. Large carnivores like tigers are very vulnerable to extinction if isolated in small pockets and reserves. About 50% of the 76 zones could still support 100 or more tigers, providing an excellent chance for the recovery of wild tiger populations. The largest viable tiger zones exist in the Russian Far East and India. Southeast Asia has some promise to sustain healthy tiger populations even though many areas have lost tigers over the last decade. ‘As tigers ranges span borders, so must tiger conservation,’ stated Eric Dinerstein, chief scientist at the WWF. ‘Asia’s economic growth should not come at the expense of tiger habitat.’
The group’s main conclusion from the research is that to protect the remaining tigers, increased conservation of the twenty top priority tiger conservation zones is required. The group is ready to support the thirteen countries where tigers live in the wild in a regional effort to save the species. The report suggests that the heads of state of those countries convene a ‘tiger summit’ to elevate the conservation of tigers on their countries’ agendas. ‘Saving wild tigers requires many countries to work together,’ stated Mahendra Shrestha, director of National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Save The Tiger Fund. ‘We’ve learned many important lessons over the last decade and this research provides a blueprint for scientists and the countries that hold the key for the tigers’ survival.’
The study was funded by the Save The Tiger Fund, a partnership between the ExxonMobil Foundation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and other donors such as the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund. Additional funding was provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.N. Foundation. It was written by scientists from Wildlife Conservation Society, World Wildlife Fund and the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park.