SETTING THE GOLD STANDARD FOR TIGER CONSERVATION IN INDIA
India is home to over 60% of the world’s wild tiger population, so in-country protections have an outsized impact on the fate of the species. In a huge leap forward for tiger conservation, the Indian government announced in July 2021 that 14 Tiger Reserves have been Conservation Assured Tiger Standards (CA|TS) approved. CA|TS is a global conservation tool that sets best practices and standards to manage wild tiger sites.
Suitable habitat is paramount for wild tiger conservation, and CA|TS certification ensures that these areas are effectively managed to support tigers’ long-term survival. CA|TS is being implemented across 125 sites in seven tiger range countries, with 94 of those in India. In the future we hope to expand the tiger’s range in India to previously occupied and new areas which will help us go beyond the goal of doubling wild tigers. India’s progress shows that with political will, funding, and the support of partners such as local communities, doubling wild tigers is possible.
INCREASING NEPAL’S RHINO POPULATION
Nepal undertakes the immense task of counting its rhino population every five years to monitor their status in the wild and assess the management effectiveness of the nation’s rhino conservation strategy. The positive results of Nepal’s 2021 National Rhino Count are in. The country’s rhino population has increased by 16% since 2015—a very promising sign for the greater one-horned rhino. Found only in Nepal and northeast India, the number of greater one-horned rhinos dwindled to as few as 200 in the wild at the turn of the 20th century. Conducted in the country’s Terai Arc Landscape, the survey documented 752 rhinos, up from an estimated 645 counted in 2015. These numbers are proof that Nepal’s ongoing protection and habitat management efforts are working.
REVOLUTIONIZING POLAR BEAR MONITORING
WWF is working to understand just how polar bears are adapting to sea ice habitat loss. From our experience, we know that polar bears roam the region year-round. The people of the Arctic have long been able to estimate a bear’s size, sex, and direction of travel from a simple polar bear track in the snow.
Now, WWF is looking at those same tracks more closely—extracting DNA from the skin cells that a polar bear sheds naturally with each step. In launching this research, WWF will empower Arctic communities to collect samples that will fill in data gaps on population estimates and offer insight into polar bears’ response to climate change.
ELIMINATING GHOST GEAR FROM THE MEXICAN PACIFIC
Ghost gear—discarded, lost, or abandoned, fishing gear in the marine environment—can trap, entangle, and even kill marine life while endangering maritime navigation and polluting the world’s oceans. To stem the negative impacts of ghost gear along Mexico’s Pacific Coast, WWF is working with local fisheries to document and retrieve abandoned gear and develop a program for recycling recovered nets. As a part of this program, WWF has also trained over 180 local community volunteers on techniques for freeing whales from ghost gear and equipped them with tools to ensure successful and safe disentanglements. This program is demonstrating how engaging stakeholders across the spectrum leads to improved outcomes for marine species and the communities that depend on healthy oceans.