It’s been 5 years since the summit in St Petersburg that first recognised International Tiger Day. However, increased human pressures on the environment mean that a lot more work needs to be done to help pull tigers away from extinction.
International tiger day is an annual event created to both celebrate these fascinating creatures and, perhaps more importantly, to raise awareness of their increasingly dwindling numbers. The 2010 St Petersburg Tiger Summit recognised that due to human influence the tigers are on the brink of extinction and efforts to preserve their disappearing habitat needs to be increased.
Tigers were once abundant across the entire continent of Asia. In the past 100 years, populations of the 6 remaining sub-species have been restricted to fragmented areas across India, China and Southeast Asia due to habitat loss and conflict with humans.
At the summit it was revealed that there were an estimated 3200 tigers left in the wild. Numbers are now thought to have dropped below 3000 in the past 5 years. With populations at an all-time low, things are not looking good for the future of tigers.
Furthermore, a study soon to be published has shown that estimates of tiger numbers in the Sundarbans, Bangladesh may have been overestimated in the 2004 survey. Data collected from animal tracks originally estimated there to be 440 tigers living in the mangroves. A new and more robust method implemented this past year using camera traps has estimated numbers to currently be around 106 tigers, a large decrease in just 10 years.
Despite efforts by the WWF and other wildlife conservation organisations, habitat loss, climate change and conflict with humans still pose a great threat to the tigers. Mangrove forests, such as the Sundarbans which house the largest population of tigers, are at risk of being submerged by rising sea levels as a result of climate change. Wildlife trafficking still remains a critical problem with hunted tigers worth up to $50,000.
IUCN Director General, Inger Andersen, has today released a statement, “Resolving this human-tiger conflict epitomises the challenge of modern-day conservation. We know what is needed to safeguard tiger populations in the long term. It requires conserving and restoring habitats, carefully monitoring populations, and bringing an end to poaching.” Ms Andersen also offers encouragement that people should continue to raise awareness of tigers to encourage the desire to help preserve these incredible creatures and the habitat in which they live.
With new challenges and a new set of solutions for this coming year we may, hopefully, see tigers claw their way back from extinction in the near future.
More information on how you can help tigers can be found at www.tigerday.org
Statement by IUCN Director General Inger Andersen- http://www.iucn.org/?21728/IUCN-celebrates-International-Tiger-Day-2015
Photo captured by Eric Kilby on Flickr – https://flic.kr/p/mgfav9
New scientist article on overestimated tiger populations in Bangladesh – https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn27964-only-100-tigers-left-in-bangladesh-after-last-count-got-it-wrong/