A century ago, 100,000 tigers roamed the planet. Today, only about 3,900 remain in the wild. So for International Tiger Day, there's no better time to get informed on the endangered species and what conservation methods are being implemented to save them.
For years, the tiger population has been dwindling, largely due to poaching, habitat loss, and retaliatory killings. Just last week, seven dead cubs were found preserved and frozen in the back of a car in Vietnam.
There exists a large demand for the animal in Asia, where many people believe the tiger has medicinal purposes, despite there being no scientific evidence that supports the belief. China in particular has been implementing positive steps towards tiger conservation.
Last year, China postponed a law that would allow the use of tiger and rhino bone trade. Although it is a temporary ban, it is still regarded postivley by wildlife agencies internationally.
World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) wildlife practice leader Margaret Kinnaird said the WWF welcomed the news: "It is important to send a strong message that the value of wild populations of tigers and rhinos and their ecosystems is much greater than the value of their parts and horns."
China also announced it would be creating a Tiger and Leopard National park to protect the species in an area that boasts to be 1.6 times larger than Yellowstone National Park in California, US. However, efforts to prevent the animal from ending up on the black market have largely been ineffective.
But it's not all bad news.
A number of countries had committed to doubling the tiger population by 2022, but today it was announced that India had already achieved this. According to the Times of India, the number of tigers in India now stands at 2,967, with figures growing approximately 8.32% in the last four years. It is now home to 75% of the world's tiger population.
India's prime minister said that development and the environment are not mutually exclusive. He also vowed that India will progress economically and take the lead in protecting the environment.
In 2016, the number of wild tigers increased for the first time in 100 years. The population was up to 3,900 compared to 3,200 in 2009, and the numbers have so far stayed that way.
Today, on #InternationalTigerDay, the All India Tiger Estimation 2018 will be released.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 29, 2019
The Government of India is committed to taking all possible steps and supporting all efforts to protect the tiger.
Do watch the programme. It begins at around 9:30 AM.
In 2017, the Republic of Kazakhstan announced plans to reintroduce tigers to its Ili-Balkhash region, where tigers had been extinct for 70 years.
However, there is still work to be done.
There are more than 7,000 tigers held in 'tiger farms' in East and Southeast Asia, which the WWF cites as a significant obstacle in the recovery of the species, as they increase the demeand for tiger products.
In 2018, WWF released a report highlighting the rise of human-tiger conflict in Russia where the populations have increased and so to has encounters with humans.
The same year, conservation teams carried out a survey showing that only 13% of conservation areas met global standards and the areas left tigers at a high risk of being poached. According to the European Commission, poaching accounted for 78% of Sumatran tiger deaths.
Tigers are important an important asset to the human world and are vital to maintaining healthy ecosystems. The tiger has lost about 95% of its habitat, and in order to protect just one tiger, approximately 25,000 acres of forest land must be preserved.
The WWF claims that by securing tiger landscapes, at least nine major watersheds could be protected which would regulate and provide freshwater for up to 830 million people. Tigers can also help some of the world's poorest communities by attracting tourism to the area and creating jobs for local people.