Wildlife Conservation Society Releases Wild Tigers Report Card
For more than 1.5 million years, tigers have roamed the earth.They could be extinct in our lifetime.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) released a “report card” today for wild tigers in Asia revealing how these iconic big cats are faring in eight key landscapes spanning nine countries.
The report shows that while tigers are in dire trouble in some areas, there are still strongholds containing robust populations in others, and opportunities to grow tiger populations in landscapes where conservation efforts are taking hold. The report card is a result of “Tigers Forever,” a collaborative initiative between WCS and Panthera – a wild cat conservation group.
The report card looks at key threats to tigers and monitors success at eight priority landscapes where WCS and Panthera work across Asia. The selected landscapes represent a sample of major ecological types across the tiger’s range and were chosen based on scientific assessment of tiger ecology, levels of threat, opportunity for recovery, and long-term security of tiger populations.
“In this Year of the Tiger, the best way we can celebrate these iconic big cats is by giving them a future,” said Wildlife Conservation Society President and CEO Steven E. Sanderson. “Each landscape where WCS works presents a unique set of challenges for conservationists, but all are bound by a common vision: to restore tiger numbers wherever possible throughout their range.”
The report gives each of the landscapes a color rating. Green means the prospect for tigers is good with populations stable or increasing and conservation efforts succeeding. Yellow means prospects for tigers are fair with numbers stable but increasingly threatened by significant conservation challenges. Red means tiger numbers are in decline with major threats growing which, if not addressed, will continue to drive tiger numbers down.
Two of the eight landscapes received a green rating: India’s Western Ghats region and Thailand’s Western Forest Complex; five received a yellow rating: the transboundary region between Russia and China, Indonesia’s Gunung Leuser landscape, Myanmar’s Hukaung Valley, Malaysia’s Endau-Rompin Landscape, and Laos’s Nam Et-Phou Louey landscape. Only Cambodia’s Eastern Plains, where perhaps 10 tigers remain, received a red rating.
Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, President and CEO of Panthera, said, “While the situation with wild tigers is dire, the good news is that we know what is needed to reverse it. Tigers Forever is an effective model that shows us that we can bring tigers back – and we already are at specific sites across the tiger’s range.”
The Tigers Forever strategy is to ensure total protection of the core areas where significant tiger populations still occur; recovery from those source sites will then expand across larger landscapes.
The world’s remaining tigers are threatened by poaching, habitat loss and fragmentation, and conflict with humans. There may be as few as 3,000 wild tigers left in the world today, with roughly half of those living in India.
Along with its field conservation programs, WCS is working to combat these threats on a policy level by engaging the international community, national governments including the U.S. government, and tiger range states through various avenues such as the Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT) and the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES). WCS is also working to pass in the U.S. Congress H.R. 1454, the Multinational Species Conservation Funds Semi-postal Stamp Act, a key tiger friendly legislation that would generate private funding for tigers and other wildlife through the sale of wildlife postal stamps. Our efforts also include strengthening U.S. Government support for tiger conservation through increases in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Rhino-Tiger Conservation Fund in Fiscal Year 2011.
WCS will be holding its 2nd Annual Run for the Wild at the Bronx Zoo in New York on Saturday, April 24, 2010 to help save tigers. Pledges and donations will provide much needed support for WCS field staff working to ensure a future for these endangered great cats. For more information on how to make tracks for tigers, go to http://www.wcsrunforthewild.org.
WCS’s Tiger Program and activities at WCS tiger sites are supported by contributions from many donors but particularly Panthera, The Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation, the Save the Tiger Fund of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Rhino Tiger Conservation Fund of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service International Program-Russian Far East Conservation, the Putexent Center of the U.S. Geological Survey, 21st Century Tiger, the Homeland Foundation, the Blue Moon Fund, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank GEF Tiger Futures project.