Poaching for fur and destruction of habitat have greatly reduced tiger populations in the wild. At the start of the 20th century, it is estimated there were over 100,000 tigers in the world but the population has dwindled to between 1,500 and 3,500 in the wild. Some estimates suggest that there are less than 2,500 mature breeding individuals, with no subpopulation containing more than 250 mature breeding individuals.
India is home to the world's largest population of tigers in the wild. According to the World Wildlife Fund, of the 3,500 tigers around the world, 1,400 are found in India. Only 11% of original Indian tiger habitat remains, and it is becoming significantly fragmented and often degraded.
A major concerted conservation effort, known as Project Tiger, has been underway since 1973, initially spearheaded by Indira Gandhi. The fundamental accomplishment has been the establishment of over 25 well-monitored tiger reserves in reclaimed land where human development is categorically forbidden. The program has been credited with tripling the number of wild Bengal tigers from roughly 1,200 in 1973 to over 3,500 in the 1990s. However, a tiger census carried out in 2007, whose report was published on February 12, 2008, stated that the wild tiger population in India declined by 60% to approximately 1,411. It is noted in the report that the decrease of tiger population can be attributed directly to poaching.
Following the release of the report, the Indian government pledged $153 million to further fund the Project Tiger initiative, set-up a Tiger Protection Force to combat poachers, and fund the relocation of up to 200,000 villagers to minimise human-tiger interaction. Additionally, eight new tiger reserves in India were set up. Indian officials successfully started a project to reintroduce the tigers into the Sariska Tiger Reserve. The Ranthambore National Park is often cited as a major success by Indian officials against poaching. In 2011 the census found 1,706 tigers Page text.
Tigers Forever is a collaboration between the Wildlife Conservation Society and Panthera Corporation to serve as both a science-based action plan and a business model to ensure that tigers live in the wild forever. Initial field sites of Tigers Forever include the world's largest tiger reserve, the 21,756 km² Hukaung Valley in Myanmar, the Western Ghats in India, Thailand's Huai Khai Khaeng-Thung Yai protected areas, and other sites in Laos PDR, Cambodia, the Russian Far East and China covering approximately 260,000 km2 of critical tiger habitat.
The Siberian tiger was on the brink of extinction with only about 40 animals in the wild in the 1940s. Under the Soviet Union, anti-poaching controls were strict and a network of protected zones (zapovedniks) were instituted, leading to a rise in the population to several hundred. Poaching again became a problem in the 1990s, when the economy of Russia collapsed, local hunters had access to a formerly sealed off lucrative Chinese market, and logging in the region increased. While an improvement in the local economy has led to greater resources being invested in conservation efforts, an increase of economic activity has led to an increased rate of development and deforestation. The major obstacle in preserving the species is the enormous territory individual tigers require (up to 450 km2 needed by a single female and more for a single male). Current conservation efforts are led by local governments and NGO's in consort with international organisations, such as the World Wide Fund and the Wildlife Conservation Society. The competitive exclusion of wolves by tigers has been used by Russian conservationists to convince hunters in the Far East to tolerate the big cats, as they limit ungulate populations less than wolves, and are effective in controlling the latter's numbers. Currently, there are about 400--550 animals in the wild.
Tiger Extinct Poaching Fur Habitat Population Wild Felidae Bengal Royal Panthera Tigris Indochinese Corbetti Corbett Malayan Tigris Jacksoni Sumatran Sumatrae Siberian Altaica Caspian Virgata South Amoyensis Bali Balica Javan Sondaica Animal Cruelty Rewilding Cat Conservation Bangladesh Siberia Iran Afghanistan India China Southeast Asia Indonesian Islands Recover Project Census Increase Numbers Carnivore