An important meeting was held last Fall, vital to the survival of all tigers in the wild. On November 22, 2010 the International Tiger Forum was held in St. Petersburg, Russia. The meeting produced the Global Tiger Recovery Programme , a collaboration between 13 countries that still have wild tigers. They set a goal of doubling the population of wild tigers by the next Year of the Tiger, in 2022. The good news is that this conference was held at all. There are many organizations around the world that are committed to keeping tigers from becoming extinct in the wild. They have incredible odds stacked against them, mostly in the form of poachers and loss of habitat, which have reduced tiger numbers from over 100,000 in the wild one hundred years ago, to estimates today of less than 3,000. Tigers now reside in just 7% of their historic range.
Today there are six species of tigers – Amur (formerly Siberian) with about 450 tigers, Bengal with around 1,850; Indochinese, 350; Malayan, maybe around 500; Sumatran, 400, and the South China tiger, with no firm numbers and no sightings of this tiger in more than 25 years. This no longer the world criteria for extinction. We lost three species, the Caspian, the Bali, and the Javan tiger, to extinction in the last century.
Although population numbers for all tiger species have continued to plummet, there are countries and organizations out there working towards saving these magnificent creatures. In late January, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) assisted the government of Nepal in the country’s first successful relocation of an injured tiger to a new home in the one of the country’s premier national parks. In Malaysia they have recently passed a conservation bill which increases the penalties for wildlife crime, with poaching of tigers and trading in their parts now receiving the maximum punishment. For many years, India has been in the forefront in both the poaching of and protection of, the Bengal tiger. But recently, India announced its 39th tiger reserve (Sahyadri), with another eight new reserves in development, proving their commitment to the conservation of the tiger in their country. Through these efforts, and many, many more, it is very possible to keep tigers where they belong – in the wild!