WASHINGTON, DC -- As we enter the 2022 Year of the Tiger, World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) latest report on tiger conservation highlights that a century-long trend of wild tiger decline has finally been reversed — a rare and hard-fought conservation success story.
In the previous Year of the Tiger, 2010, the Global Tiger Initiative was formed and the first-ever international meeting for tiger conservation, the St. Petersburg Tiger Summit was convened. The event and initiative ignited international collaboration across the 13 tiger range country governments and the global conservation community towards a common goal for tiger recovery. This represents one of the greatest degrees of political will ever mustered for the protection of a single species to this day, as well as a clear turning point in the history of tiger conservation.
WWF’s Impact on Tiger Recovery 2010-2022 report summarizes more than a decade of work and collaboration on tiger conservation and details both lessons learned and the unrelenting challenges for the future of this iconic big cat.
Some highlights captured in the new report include the designation of the world’s largest tiger protected area in China and a national park in Russia, Land of the Leopard, where tiger numbers have tripled. In Bhutan’s Royal Manas National Park, the report explains how the use of the Spatial Monitoring and Report Tool (SMART) and other conservation measures have resulted in a doubling of tiger numbers since 2012 — an incredible and hard-earned conservation success.
The report also features the Khata Forest Conservation Area, which has been transformed from just 115 hectares of forest to 3,800, encompassing more than 6,000 community members and stewards of the land. This transboundary corridor between India and Nepal, recently awarded for Conservation Excellence, has been used by 46 individual tigers in the last five years.
“Wild tigers have made remarkable progress over the past twelve years. The species had been in continual decline for about a century until the historic reversal of that trend in 2016,” said Ginette Hemley, Senior Vice President of Wildlife Conservation at WWF-US. “India, Nepal, Bhutan, Russia and China have demonstrated what it takes to increase wild tiger numbers and conserve their habitat. As these countries show, the communities living alongside tiger habitats are instrumental stewards of the nature around them and their partnership is vital. Hopefully, the success of these countries will inspire others, particularly in Southeast Asia, to step up efforts to protect wild tigers and secure the species’ future beyond 2022.”
There is progress worth celebrating on tiger recovery, but it is vital to acknowledge that these gains are fragile and have not been uniform across Asia’s subregions with perilous declines in Malaysia and tigers now likely extinct in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. While the global estimate for wild tigers may be on the rise, their range has continued to decline and tigers today are restricted to less than 5 percent of their historic range. As we enter the Lunar Year of the Tiger, there is a pressing need to continue global tiger recovery efforts and strengthen all necessary actions to achieve a sustainable future for the species.
The pivotal moment for the future of tiger conservation will be the 2nd Global Tiger Summit on September 5th, 2022 in Vladivostock, Russia. Heads of states and ministers from tiger range countries will gather with other world leaders, and intergovernmental bodies, NGOs, and conservation experts, to determine the next phase of the Global Tiger Recovery Plan. It will play a critical role in bringing the international community together, and reshaping the future of tiger conservation with a framework that is tiger-friendly, people-centered, and embedded within the global and national economic agenda. There is also an opportunity to address range decline with an ambitious new goal for range expansion.
WWF will continue to support core tiger conservation activities including the effective management of protected areas, disruption of the illegal wildlife trade, and demand reduction for tigers and their parts and products. Beyond 2022, WWF will work with communities living in tiger landscapes to build connectivity, promote tiger reintroduction in the former range, reduce human-wildlife conflict and further strengthen transboundary conservation efforts. We will also ensure alignment with broader priorities of the environmental agenda, including climate change adaptation and mitigation, land degradation and ecosystem restoration and rewilding.
“The 2010 Tiger Summit set in motion an unprecedented range of tiger conservation initiatives. The results of which demonstrate what can be achieved through long term and collaborative commitments to species recovery. The dedication of field teams, conservation partners and communities living in tiger landscapes are behind these extraordinary results,” said Stuart Chapman, Leader of the Tigers Alive Initiative, WWF.