WWF Urges Tiger Range Countries To Carry Out Surveys

There is a distinct lack of accurate information in many countries where the tiger roams and according to the WWF, the wild tiger population is facing extinction.

During the Tiger Summit held in St. Petersburg in 2010 when countries that formed part of the tiger range committed themselves to achieving the goal of doubling the population of wild tigers by 2022, the population of wild tigers was estimated to be as few as 3200.

Wild tigers are facing the risk of extinction in some countries due to a lack of accurate information on tiger populations, said the WWF.

“This figure was just an estimate. In 2010 many countries had not undertaken systematic national tiger surveys. Now many have or are doing so, but not all, leaving major worrying gaps in our knowledge. Until we know how many tigers we have and where they are, we can’t know how best to protect them.” said Michael Baltzer, Leader of WWF Tigers Alive Initiative.

The greatest threat to wild tigers today is poaching. Alongside the rhino horn and ivory, tiger body parts are in great demand throughout Asia. According to data from TRAFFIC a network which monitors trade in wildlife, it is estimated that a minimum of 1590 tigers were poached between January 2000 and 2014. According to those figures, it would means that roughly two tigers a week were poached, though actual poaching levels are reckoned to be substantially higher. The major concern is that countries who do not conduct national tiger surveys may well lose tigers to poachers without knowing and this may already be the case for some countries.

Presently Russia, Nepal and India carry out regular national surveys and numbers will soon be known for China, Bangladesh and Bhutan who are in the process of conducting national surveys. Wild tiger populations in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia are not known.

The WWF is urging those countries who have yet to conduct a survey to do so urgently. A systematic survey of the tiger population requires planning of between 6-12 months and a minimum of a year to complete. This means if we want a global tiger population statistic to be released by the half way point to Tx2 in 2016, these surveys mast begin immediately.

“We are more than a third of the way to 2022. We need to move at a faster, more determined pace if we hope to achieve the Tx2 goal,” added Baltzer.

The surveys make use of tiger stripes to identify individual tigers because they are as unique as human finger prints. The survey shows tiger populations, trends and location. Previously many surveys have also revealed the presence of tigers living outside of protected areas or moving between protected areas. Access to this kind of information allows governments to more effectively focus their anti poaching efforts.

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