World’s wild tiger population still dwindling and threatened, report says

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Photo: Julie Larsen Maher / Wildlife Conservation Society: A Siberian tiger in the wild.

By Melissa Segrest
Green Right Now

Their numbers are dropping and their habitat is shrinking. Now, new research co-authored by a group of the world’s foremost wildlife organizations and experts presents stark information about the few remaining tigers surviving in the wild.

There are fewer than 3,200 tigers roaming free on the planet. Of those, only about 1,000 are breeding females.

Seventy percent of the world’s tigers occupy only 6 percent of their original habitat, the paper says. The rest of their ranks and their range have been lost to hunting (of both tigers and their prey), habitat loss and deforestation, and the wildlife trade, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society. The tiger’s body parts are valuable in some cultures, particularly in traditional medicines.

There are only 42 areas, scattered across Asia, where tigers still breed and survive. Of nine tiger sub-species, only six survive today, according to the World Wildlife Federation

The study  that takes a new look at the tiger’s plight is co-authored by Wildlife Conservation Society researchers along with experts from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the Global Environment Facility, the University of Cambridge, the World Bank and the University of Minnesota.

There is a solution, the authors say.

It would take an estimated $82 million to support law enforcement, monitor the tiger populations and get people of those regions involved in the conservation effort, the report’s authors say. Because some governments in those areas and the international wildlife community are already working to keep the big cats safe, the real needed dollar figure is closer to $35 million.

The tigers are clustered in 12 countries, the largest and most important being India, home to 18 of those tiger breeding spots.  The other countries where efforts are concentrated are Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Russia, the conservation society says.

The Wildlife Conservation Society’s “Tigers in Peril” program details the problem, provides information about the world’s biggest cats and gives tiger-lovers ways to help.

An interactive map shows where the remaining tigers live.

A key event that could set the fate of wild tigers is the Tiger Summit planned for November in St. Petersburg, Russia, according to the conservation society’s website. There, leaders of governments in those countries where tigers still roam will gather to talk about what’s needed next to increase the big cats’ numbers.

That’s appropriate: On the Chinese calendar, 2010 is the Year of the Tiger.

Copyright © 2010 Green Right Now | Distributed by GRN Network

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