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Continental Tiger

Facts

The continental tiger is found on the Asian mainland. This subspecies comprises Bengal, Malayan, Indochinese, and Amur tiger populations. The Caspian tiger is extinct in the wild, while the South China tiger is believed to be functionally extinct.

  • Scientific Name
    Panthera tigris tigris
tiger paw print

The continental tiger’s habitat extends across Asia, from the Russian Far East to mangrove forests of the Sundarbans to the Lower Mekong. For many decades, tiger populations declined precipitously as a result of habitat loss, poaching, and trade of tiger products. Their numbers reached an all-time low by the mid-2000s. In the last few years, we have been seeing signs of tiger population recovery in India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, and Russia. However, in other parts of the mainland, such as Myanmar and Malaysia, tiger numbers may still be declining due to poaching and habitat loss.

Nine wins for tigers in the last nine years

Established in 2010 and dubbed Tx2, it is arguably the most ambitious effort ever undertaken to recover an endangered species. Today, the overall tiger population decline has begun to reverse, with better data and improved surveys indicating there are likely now close to 4,000 tigers roaming free across the range states.Here are the Tx2’s top nine achievements to date.

Bengal tiger and cub

Why They Matter

  • The tiger is at the top of the food chain in the wild and thus plays a critical role in the overall function of the ecosystem. Tigers are also a vital link in maintaining the rich biodiversity of nature. If we successfully protect just one tiger, we also protect around 25,000 acres of forest. These ecosystems supply both nature and people with fresh water, food, and health. Maintaining tiger habitats also benefits a host of globally important species like Asian elephants, greater one-horned rhino, and Asiatic black bear, among others.

Threats

A tiger trap in the snow

A poaching snare sits in the snow in Russia. Illegal poaching threatens the future of tigers.

Illegal Wildlife Trade

The most immediate threat to the survival of continental tigers is poaching to supply the demand for tiger parts on the black market. Despite a global trade ban in the past few decades, the demand for tiger products as status symbols, decorative items, and folk cures has increased dramatically, leading to a new poaching crisis. Tiger farms in Thailand, Vietnam, and China perpetuate the demand for tiger products from all sources—including the wild—and contribute to the poaching problem.


Habitat Loss

Tiger habitats are at risk from logging, conversion of forests to agriculture or commercial plantations, and infrastructure development. This habitat fragmentation forces tigers into scattered, small refuges, which isolates populations and increases accessibility for poachers and the likelihood of human-wildlife conflict.

Prey Loss

Tigers suffer in some areas from a severe loss of natural prey like deer, and wild boar and wild cattle. Prey numbers decline because of direct poaching for meat and trade, competition with livestock over food, and habitat degradation resulting from logging and other activities.

Human-Wildlife Conflict

As tigers continue to lose their habitat and prey species, they are increasingly coming into conflict with humans. When they attack domestic animals—and sometimes people—people sometimes retaliate by killing tigers.

What WWF Is Doing

Female tiger and cubs rest in water

We can save wild tigers. In 2010, the 13 tiger range countries committed to TX2—to double wild tiger numbers by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger. In pursuing TX2, WWF and its partners have taken a comprehensive approach to tiger conservation. Achieving TX2 requires expanding support for site-based programs across priority landscapes and ensuring key populations endure long after the TX2 goal is met.

Stopping Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trade

WWF works to enforce zero tolerance for tiger poaching across mainland Asia. We help create dedicated enforcement units in each landscape and install the best new technologies to help local agencies achieve maximum results. We invest in stronger law enforcement by helping to improve the effectiveness of wildlife rangers and community patrols through training and other support. WWF and TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, work to stop tiger parts and products from being channeled into black markets in Asia, and to reduce consumer demand.

Empowering Communities

WWF engages with local authorities and communities living in proximity to tiger areas so that people and tigers can coexist. WWF supports innovative solutions like biogas technology for cooking stoves in order to save tiger forests, improve community health, and mitigate climate change impacts. We also help farmers put measures in place to protect their livestock, reducing incidents of human-tiger conflict. We work to give communities a stake in conservation by creating employment and income opportunities through ecotourism.

Conserving Landscapes and Protecting Habitat

Researcher looks at tiger image from camera trap

WWF works to secure the large areas of habitat continental tigers need to survive in the long-term. WWF has been instrumental in securing tiger habitat in countries like Bhutan, China, and Russia. The protected habitat includes officially protected areas and conservation leases that help secure a continuous landscape for tigers. We have also collaborated with the governments of India and Nepal to reconnect protected areas through wildlife corridors. In addition, WWF works with governments and other stakeholders to address the impacts of infrastructure development on tiger habitat.

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