Monday, 4 April 2016

Could tiger populations recover? These scientists say yes.

APRIL 3, 2016
by Susanna Pilny

In perhaps what might be considered cautiously optimistic news, forests in critical parts of the world haven’t been destroyed as much as anticipated, meaning enough of them remain to achieve an international goal of doubling world tiger populations.

Fewer than 3,500 tigers are left in the wild, making them the most endangered big cat of all. Much of this is because only 7 percent of the tiger's territory remains in Asia. In the last century alone, wild tiger numbers have plunged by 95 percent.

What's killing the tigers?
The big problems are the usual culprits: habitat destruction (from logging, development, and agriculture) and poaching (partially because certain tiger body parts are used in traditional Asian medicine).

By 2010, the crisis had grown to the point that government officials from the 13 Asian countries where tigers still roam, including four heads of state, convened a meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia. There, they agreed on a global recovery goal: By 2022, the wild tiger population would be double what it was at the time—a motion known as the Tx2 goal.

And so far, there have been some exciting successes towards achieving it. Nepal reports its tiger population has increased by 61 percent, while India reports a 31 percent growth. At the same time, though, habitat loss has only continued to eat away at the remaining areas where tigers can live. This caused some to become concerned that the Tx2 goal would be impossible to achieve—because too little habitat would be left to support a wild tiger population of that size.

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