Tigers living in the wild, who have experienced severe population loss, deserve some good news. Now, they might have it.
After noting a century of declining numbers, officials with the 3rd Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation yesterday reported that the international population of wild tigers has grown, The Washington Post reports. Recent surveys counted 3,890 tigers currently living in 13 countries across Asia; the last wide-scale count, in 2010, estimated the population at 3,200 tigers.
“We’ve watched tigers decline for decades and have dreamed of bending that curve in the other direction,” Carter Roberts, president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund (WWF), told the news outlet. “This is a big deal.”
The reason for the rise could be twofold, according to WWF. Better surveys, conducted by countries with tigers and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and increased protection efforts over the past six years could account for the growth.
Strong increases appeared most in Russia, Nepal, Bhutan and India, the site of the world’s largest wild tiger population. Other countries showed less progress. The count in Malaysia lacked a systemic national survey, according to WWF, and Cambodia announced last week that tigers were now extinct within its borders.
The biggest threats to tigers comes from humans, who destroy habitats and poach the animals for their body parts, which some believe carry supposed medicinal value. To others, like those who work to protect these animals, their true value comes in seeing the beautiful big cats reestablished in the wild.