The number of tigers in the wild has risen for the first time in 100 years, marking a major turning point in the big cat’s plight against poaching and habitat loss.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Global Tiger Forum (GTF) said there are now 3,890 tigers according to the latest global data. In 2010, the tiger population dipped to only 3,200 compared to 100,000 in 1900.
The increase in numbers can be attributed to multiple factors including increases in tiger populations in India, Russia, Nepal and Bhutan, improved surveys and enhanced protection, the WWF said.
Academy award winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio—whose philanthropic organization has donated more than $6.2 million to the WWF since 2010 to help boost tiger numbers—said he was “proud” of the work being done to save the iconic species.
“Tigers are some of the most vital and beloved animals on Earth,” the chairman of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and WWF board member said a statement. “With our partners at WWF, my Foundation has supported major efforts to double the number of tigers in the wild.”
“In Nepal, our efforts have produced one of the greatest areas of progress in tiger conservation, which is helping drive this global increase in population,” DiCaprio continued. “I am so proud that our collective efforts have begun to make progress toward our goal, but there is still so much to be done.”
“I am optimistic about what can be achieved when governments, communities, conservationists and private foundations like ours come together to tackle global challenges.”
“We’ve watched tigers decline for decades and have dreamed of bending that curve in the other direction,” said Carter Roberts, president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
“In a sea of bad news on the environment, we’re now seeing an increase in the global wild tiger population for the first time in 100 years. This is a big deal. Together with the generous support of our partners like LDF and so many others, we are making significant progress on one of the greatest comeback stories in conservation.
“We see that leaders matter. Communities matter. And coalitions matter. Now is the moment to amplify these efforts and achieve our shared dream to double the wild tiger population by 2022.”
DiCaprio, the WWF and other animal conservation groups and all 13 tiger range countries have pledged to double the number of wild tigers in the world to more than 6,000 by 2022, which is the next Year of the Tiger.
The global aim is also known as “Tx2.”
— WWF Tigers (@WWF_tigers) April 10, 2016
The meeting of tiger range governments at the 3rd Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation this week is the latest step in the Global Tiger Initiative process that began with the 2010 Tiger Summit in Russia. Governments at that meeting agreed to the Tx2 goal to double wild tiger numbers by 2022.
“This is a critical meeting taking place at the halfway point in the Tx2 goal,” said Dr Rajesh Gopal, Secretary General, Global Tiger Forum. “Tiger governments will decide the next steps towards achieving this goal and ensuring wild tigers have a place in Asia’s future.”
Over the three day meeting, countries will report on their progress toward the Tx2 goal and commit to next steps. Prime Minister Modi will address the conference on the essential role tigers play as a symbol of a country’s ecological well-being.
“A strong action plan for the next six years is vital,” said Michael Baltzer, Leader of WWF Tx2 Tiger Initiative. “The global decline has been halted but there is still no safe place for tigers. Southeast Asia, in particular, is at imminent risk of losing its tigers if these governments do not take action immediately.”
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Photo Credit: WWF