Sunday, January 06, 2013

Tigers: A little Good News

Tigers, as a whole, have taken it hard fro m humanity for the last two centuries. The Javan tiger is extinct; the Sumatran and South China tigers are on the edge; continued poaching and habitat destruction have ground down the remaining populations.  So it's very nice to see this article. While the The Wildlife Conservation Society estimates there are only 3,200 tigers in the wild, that's actually an uptick.  Years of all-out effort by the WCS, the government of India, and other conservation organizations have resulted in a surplus (from a total population of 600 or so) of tigers in the region containing the Nagarahole and Bandipur National Parks. Efforts in China, Russia, and Thailand are making progress, including rising or at least stable tiger populations thanks to increased arrests and stiffer punishments of poachers. 
I was pessimistic in my 1995 book Rumors of Existence, quoting the IUCN's Peter Jackson (not the filmmaker) as saying, “It is my belief that the end of the tiger is in sight, probably within ten years."  The situation is still critical, especially for the Sumatran subspecies (or species, depending on which authority one references), but we've shown that we can do some good for tigers in the wild.  We need to keep it up.

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