According to a new population assessment conducted by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an estimated 3,726 to 5,578 tigers currently live around the world – which represents a 40 percent increase since 2015. While part of this increase can simply be the result of improvements in monitoring, conservation efforts over the past years could also have played a major role in halting – and perhaps even reversing – the decline of this endangered species.
“A fairly significant chunk of that 40 percent increase is explained by the fact that we’re better at counting them, that many governments in particular have really sort of moved heaven and earth to do massive scale surveys,” said Luke Hunter, the executive director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Big Cats program.
Besides better monitoring, Hunter also attributes the higher tiger numbers to increased conservation efforts in the countries where these rises in tiger populations were identified. However, this species is still considered endangered by IUCN, since tiger populations continue to decline in many parts of the globe and have lost a huge amount of their range due to poaching, habitat loss, and other human-caused factors.
Although tigers are just one among an enormous number of endangered species, efforts to conserve them could benefit other ecosystems surrounding them, as well as humans. “When you succeed in saving tigers or conserving tigers, you are conserving very large wilderness landscapes, with a huge host of biodiversity but also a whole bunch of benefits to the human communities that live in and around those landscapes,” Hunter explained.
IUCN’s tiger assessment is an important proof that conservation interventions can work and tiger populations are beginning to recover. “Expanding and connecting protected areas, ensuring they are effectively managed, and working with local communities living in and around tiger habitats, are critical to protect the species,” IUCN experts concluded.
By Andrei Ionescu, Earth.com Staff Writer