Using satellite data, a new study suggests that the number of wild tigers is not in nearly the trouble once suggested and good double in the next decade in the thirteen countries that have a wild tiger population.
Earlier studies overestimated wild tiger decline
The new study which was published late last week in Science Advances used satellite imagery to study the decline of tigers in 13 countries from 2001-2014.
Because of the amount of land involved and governmental deficiencies in some countries, it’s fairly clear that the tiger is fairing better than many thought when they convened of the Internation Tiger Conservation forum held in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2010. That forum’s goal was to see the doubling of the wild tiger population globally.
“After St. Petersburg, a group of scientists asked whether this idea of doubling the wild tiger population was even possible,” says lead author Anup Joshi of the University of Minnesota, in a telephone interview with The Christian Science Monitor.
The team involved believes that monitoring of 76 tiger habitats, including 29 truly important ones, needs to be done every two years and also believes that satellites present the best possible accuracy.
“The best way to do this, to cover these huge areas, is by remote sensing – satellite data,” Dr. Joshi told the CSM. “Bear in mind, most of these countries are developing, with limited resources.”
Technology put to work for study
The work done in the study and going forward relied on public information made available by NASA satellites inputted into Google Earth and would not have been possible just ten years ago.
“From our perspective, it is remarkable and unexpected that only 7.7 percent of the [tiger] range was lost to conversion over the study period,” wrote Joshi and others in the study published last week.
The primary reasons for the estimated declines in population are the fact that of the 13 countries that host wild tiger populations a number of them have the “fastest growing economies in the world” with and high population density.
“This shows that the efforts of the governments and the park authorities are real,” says Joshi. “If they weren’t, there would have been much more loss. But while this is undoubtedly good news, we did still lose areas, so we need to keep working.”