Last Remaining Tigers Living in Six Percent of Available Habitat

The world’s biggest cat, the tiger, is now living out its life in about six percent of the available habitat it could be living in. This according to a new peer-reviewed paper by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and other groups who have identified 42 source sites scattered across Asia that will be the last hope for conserving and hopefully recovering the tiger from the brink of extinction.

The paper suggests that there are fewer than 3,500 tigers left in the wild, of which only 1,000 are breeding females. Of the sites located as important for the recovery of the species, India had 18 source sites, Sumatra 8 and the Russian Far East contains 6.

“While the scale of the challenge is enormous, the complexity of effective implementation is not,” said Joe Walston, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Asia Program and lead author of the study. “In the past, overly ambitious and complicated conservation efforts have failed to do the basics: prevent the hunting of tigers and their prey. With 70 percent of the world’s wild tigers in just six percent of their current range, efforts need to focus on securing these sites as the number one priority for the species.”

Solutions for Protecting the Tiger

Securing the tiger’s remaining source sites is believed to be the most effective and efficient way of helping the wild tiger, according to the authors of the study. Already, $47 million is being provided by governments and international support to help the tiger, providing law enforcement, wildlife monitoring, community involvement and other factors. However, another $35 million is needed, according to the authors, to intensify proven methods of protection and monitoring on the ground.

“The tiger is facing its last stand as a species,” said Dr. John Robinson, Executive Vice President of Conservation and Science for the Wildlife Conservation Society. “As dire as the situation is for tigers, the Wildlife Conservation Society is confident that the world community will come together to save these iconic big cats from the brink for future generations. This study gives us a roadmap to make that happen.”

Dr. Gustavo Fonseca, team leader of natural resources at the Global Environment Facility, said: “A key goal for us is to help identify the most efficient path forward so countries can achieve their global biodiversity conservation objectives. The GEF is pleased to have been able to contribute to this initial assessment focusing on the highest priority sites for the future of this magnificent species”

Alan Rabinowitz, President and CEO of Panthera, said: “We know how to save tigers. We have the knowledge and the tools to get the job done. What we are lacking is political will and financial support. The price tag to save one of the planet’s great iconic species is not a high one.

Source: Wildlife Conservation Society

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