Asia's most iconic predator, the tiger, is vanishing. At the turn of the 20th century, an estimated 100,000 wild tigers inhabited a range extending across Asia. There are only an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 wild tigers left, and a mere seven percent remains of the tiger's once vast geographic range.
Threatened by habitat loss, diminished prey, human-wildlife conflict, and poaching for its stunning pelt, bones and other body parts, tigers are now classified as Endangered.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) provides solutions to tiger conservation in nine countries where tigers remain and could potentially repopulate: Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Russia, and Thailand. WCS does this by creating protected areas, supporting law enforcement that apprehends poachers, managing prey populations and human activity in tiger habitats, and increasing tiger conservation awareness.
SAVING THE TIGER
If tigers are to survive over the long term, we must secure populations across a broad spectrum of habitats. With an estimated 1,000 breeding females remaining in the wild, this will be a daunting challenge. A recent study spearheaded by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) identified 42 "source sites" that must be prioritized to save tigers from extinction. These areas--in Russia, Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Laos--contain enough tigers to potentially repopulate larger tiger landscapes.
Over the next ten years, WCS and its partners will increase and stabilize tiger populations in key landscapes, working with range state governments and local people to manage these areas effectively. To measure its success, WCS will track whether tiger populations are numerically stable and demographically robust in eight of the most important tiger landscapes. WCS will seek to ensure that the killing of tigers by people is balanced by growth in tiger populations. It will create strategies to ensure prey population numbers can support tigers. Finally, it will study habitat connectivity to secure adequate gene flow among multiple core populations of breeding females aiming to maintain a viable population of tigers in each landscape at a minimum.
WCS has become a leader in the conservation field through practices shaped by careful science. It has produced more than 75 percent of the world's recent research on tigers. That work is conducted by an inspired national staff of more than 300 individuals capable of delivering conservation interventions unique to specific contexts. Key to this success is an ability to partner with national governments across a wide political, cultural, and economic spectrum. WCS has made a long-term commitment to working on the ground in local communities throughout tiger landscapes. After decades of tiger science and conservation, it now has the capacity to significantly expand its tiger conservation impact. Although advancing technology, economic development, and human population growth undoubtedly pose serious future challenges, they also present new opportunities to relieve pressure on wild tigers and their habitats. With increased and sustained investments, WCS will ensure that tiger conservation becomes a model for how to save severely threatened wildlife species.
For more information, go to: http://www.wcs.org/saving-wildlife/big-cats/tiger.aspx
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