Good news, animal lovers. For the first time in 100 years, the wild tiger count has increased. According to the World Wildlife Foundation, around 3,890 tigers now exist in the wild, which is up from an estimated 3,200 just six years ago in 2010.
“This is a pivotal step in the recovery of one of the world’s most endangered and iconic species,” said Ginette Hemley, vice president of wildlife conservation at WWF.
“Together with governments, local communities, philanthropists, and other NGOs, we’ve begun to reverse the trend in the century-long decline of tigers. But much more work and investment is needed if we are to reach our goal of doubling wild tiger numbers by 2022.”
In 2010, senior officials of governments with wild tiger populations pledged to protect the big cat and double their population size by 2022. While the increase from 3,200 to 3,890 may not initially sound significant, the fact that the endangered animal’s numbers are increasing at all is good news for conservationists.
But the WWF stresses that their work is not yet done. “Though we’ve seen real gains in some countries,” the organization writes, “the outlook isn’t as clear in Southeast Asia, where poaching and rampant deforestation continue to negatively impact tiger numbers.”
“But the hopeful news of rising tiger numbers proves we can make a difference when we come together to tackle these challenges. WWF works with governments, law enforcement, and local communities to advocate zero tolerance for tiger poaching across Asia, and uses the latest technology to protect and connect fragile tiger habitat. Together, we have a chance to reach our goal of doubling wild tiger numbers by 2022.”
The biggest poaching threat facing tigers are hunters seeking to sell their body parts as alternative medicine in China and some Southeast Asian countries. Their claws, for example, are thought to treat insomnia. Their whiskers are used to treat toothaches. Even their brain is used to treat ‘laziness.’
There is, of course, no scientific (or indeed compelling anecdotal) evidence supporting the notion that any part of a tiger can be used to treat these ailments.
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