For the first time in more than a century, the worldwide tiger population has gone up, according to the latest conservation data. There were an estimated 100,000 wild tigers on the planet in 1900. But only 3,200 of them were left in the wild in 2010. Data released by the World Wildlife Fund showed Sunday that the number of wild tigers has risen 22% to 3,890. The report comes ahead of the 3rd Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation in New Delhi.
Tiger population rises in India, Russia, Nepal, Bhutan
India is home to about 60% of the total tiger population. The number of tigers roaming in Indian reserves rose to 2,226 compared to 1,706 in 2010. The WWF attributed the growth to a rise in population in India, Russia, Nepal, and Bhutan. The tiger is an endangered species. Consistent habitat loss and poaching in Southeast Asian countries is still a huge problem.
Though the report cheered conservationists, they stopped short of saying that the number of tigers has actually gone up. The higher number could be simply because of more areas being covered, better technology, tracking, improved survey methods. WWF senior vice-president for wildlife conservation Ginette Hemley said the trend was more important than the absolute number. The upward trend suggests that conservationists and governments are moving in the right direction.
Southeast Asian countries lagging behind
The global census was compiled from national tiger surveys and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Worldwide, countries have pledged to double the tiger population by 2022 compared to 2010 levels. While India, Russia, Bhutan and Nepal have shown significant progress, Southeast Asian countries have been lagging behind. Many of them do no even conduct a tiger census on their own.
Tigers have seen their habitats shrinking as countries develop. Here’s the tiger count broken down by country:
- India: 2,226
- Bangladesh: 106
- Bhutan: 103
- China 7
- Indonesia 371
- Cambodia: 0
- Laos: 2
- Malaysia: 250
- Nepal: 198
- Thailand: 189
- Russia: 433
- Vietnam: fewer than 5
Ginette Hemley said much more investment and work was needed to reach the goal of doubling wild tiger numbers by 2022.