Pop­u­la­tion on the rise for the first time since 1900

7 Days in Dubai - - SPECIAL REPORT -

he world’s count of wild tigers roam­ing forests from Rus­sia to Viet­nam has gone up for the first time in more than a cen­tury, with 3,890 counted by con­ser­va­tion groups and na­tional govern­ments in the lat­est global cen­sus, wildlife con­ser­va­tion groups have said.

The tally marks a turn­around from the last world­wide es­ti­mate in 2010, when the num­ber of tigers in the wild hit an all-time low of about 3,200, ac­cord­ing to the World Wildlife Fund and the Global Tiger Fo­rum.

In­dia alone holds more than half of the world’s tigers, with 2,226 tigers roam­ing re­serves across the coun­try, from the south­ern tip of Ker­ala state to the east­ern swamps in West Ben­gal, ac­cord­ing to its last count in 2014.

But, while the news is cause for cel­e­bra­tion, ex­perts stopped short of say­ing the num­ber of tigers it­self was ac­tu­ally ris­ing..

Still, this is the first time tiger counts are in­creas­ing since 1900, when there were more than 100,000 tigers in the wild.

“More im­por­tant than the ab­so­lute num­bers is the trend, and we’re see­ing the trend go­ing in the right di­rec­tion,” said Ginette Hem­ley, se­nior vice pres­i­dent of wildlife con­ser­va­tion at WWF.

The global cen­sus, com­piled from na­tional tiger sur­veys as well as the In­ter­na­tional Union for Con­ser­va­tion of Na­ture, was re­leased a day be­fore min­is­ters from 13 coun­tries meet for three days in New Delhi.

The coun­tries teamed up with con­ser­va­tion groups af­ter the dis­ap­point­ing count in 2010, and pledged to dou­ble wild tiger num­bers by 2022. Hol­ly­wood ac­tor Leonardo DiCaprio joined the ef­fort.

“Tigers are some of the most vi­tal and beloved an­i­mals on Earth,” DiCaprio said in a state­ment. “I am so proud that our col­lec­tive ef­forts have be­gun to make progress to­ward our goal, but there is still so much to be done.”

Not all na­tions are see­ing progress. While Rus­sia, In­dia, Bhutan and Nepal all counted more tigers in their lat­est sur­veys, South­east Asian coun­tries have strug­gled. They are also be­hind the oth­ers in con­ser­va­tion.

“When you have high-level po­lit­i­cal com­mit­ments, it can make all the dif­fer­ence,” Hem­ley said. “When you have well pro­tected habi­tat and you con­trol the poach­ing, tigers will re­cover. That’s a pretty sim­ple for­mula.”

Cam­bo­dia is look­ing at rein­tro­duc­ing tigers af­ter re­cently declar­ing them func­tion­ally ex­tinct within its bor­ders, mean­ing there are no longer any breed­ing tigers in the wild.

In­done­sia has also seen a rapid de­cline, thanks to hav­ing the world’s high­est rate of for­est de­struc­tion to meet grow­ing de­mand for pro­duc­ing palm oil as well as pulp and pa­per.

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