Large carnivores around the world have been in steep decline for the last century. Upwards of 95% of wild tiger populations have been destroyed since 1900. But there are signs that tigers are making a comeback. Here are 4 stories that spell good news for the world’s tigers.
1. A new breeding population of Indochinese tigers found in Thailand
Indochinese tigers aren’t in an especially good place. Up until recently, it was believed that there existed only one breeding population of the animal. But conservationists have discovered a second population of the animal.
Photographs of adults and cubs were captured in Dong-Phayayen Khao Yai Forest Complex in Thailand last March. This inches up the likely number of tigers into the hundreds.
“Thailand’s World Heritage Forest Complex is home to prime forested habitat that, with significant conservation resources, could support eight times as many tigers as it does now,” said Panthera’s conservation biologist John Goodrich. “With continued infiltration of rigorous anti-poaching protection, there is no doubt that this population can be fully recovered.”
2. China creates a massive national park to protect tigers and leopards.
Last year, the Jilin provincial government proposed the creation of an enormous, 14,600 square kilometer national park. It would be 50% larger than Yellowstone National Park in the United States and serve to protect delicate ecosystems and teetering tiger populations.
The Chinese federal government moved to approve the park in May of 2017. The park will be home to 42 critically endangered Amur leopards as well as a number of tigers. Human encroachment is the number one threat to these large carnivores, making a protected space crucial for their survival.
3. Laos plans to shut down all commercial tiger farms.
Tiger farms may seem absurd to us, but they’re commonplace in some parts of the world. Around 200 of these farms exist throughout Asia. They provide markets with various tiger body parts. Conservationists have argued that these farms keep the demand for tiger products high, which leads to illegal poaching of the animals.
Laos’ Minister of Natural Resources and Environment announced that all of the country’s tiger farms will be shut down, but so far, no action has been taken. This has lead to some criticism from conservationists, but they still view it as a step in the right direction.
4. Tigers are using protective forest corridors in Sumatra.
Many of Sumatra’s forests are being turned into pulpwood plantations and farms, but a series of protected bands of forests set aside for wildlife have been shown to be working. Last January, a study was published that showed a “significant presence” of tigers, bears, pangolins, tapirs, and elephants alike using these corridors, staying well clear of human settlements.
These results are exactly what conservationists were hoping for. It shows that wildlife will utilize these protected areas. Eventually these areas will connect to larger forests, like Tesso Nilo National Park.