A year-and-a-half after a landmark summit that pledged to double the world’s number of tigers by 2022, and still 65 percent of tiger reserves lack minimum standards of protection for the world’s largest cat, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Reporting at the first meeting of all 13 tiger-range countries since the 2010 summit, WWF said that 41 tiger reserves of 63 did not have enough boots on the ground to combat tiger poaching.
“Steady progress is being made towards meeting the goal of doubling wild tiger numbers, but tiger range governments must urgently and seriously step up action to eliminate poaching if they do not want their investments to go to waste,” explained Mike Baltzer, head of WWF’s Tigers Alive Initiative, in a press release.
The Sumatran tiger is listed as Critically Endangered as much of its habitat is destroyed for monoculture plantations. Around 400-500 are thought to survive on the island of Sumatra. It is Indonesia’s last tiger, after the Javan and Bali tigers went extinct. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Tigers are killed for their body parts, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Although the big cats are also threatened by habitat loss, prey depletion, and trapping, experts say the biggest barrier to meeting the goal of doubling wild tiger populations is pervasive poaching.
TRAFFIC, an NGO devoted to combating the illegal wildlife trade, also reported that high tiger trading places included Kathmandu, Nepal; Hanoi, Vietnam; and the border between Russia and China. On the positive side, seizures of illegal tiger parts continued to be high.
“This gathering of tiger range states shows that the momentum to save tigers is indeed building, but the pressure on the species continues,” Ravi Singh, head of WWF-India, said. India has the world’s largest population of wild tigers. “Coordinated anti-poaching measures across tiger range states are called for. These need to be scaled up and implemented urgently to achieve zero poaching.”
The tiger is listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List. Around 3,000 tigers are believed to survive in the wild today—less than the number held in captivity in the U.S. There are six surviving subspecies of tiger today, two of which—the Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) and the South China tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis)—are listed as Critically Endangered; the South China tiger is believed to be extinct in the wild, but there are plans to reintroduce the subspecies. The Twentieth Century saw the extinction of three tiger subspecies: the Javan tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica), the Caspian tiger (Panthera tigris virgata), and the Bali tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae).
(05/03/2012) Abandoned by NGOs and the World Bank, carved out for rubber plantations and mining by the Cambodian government, spiraling into a chaos of poaching and illegal logging, and full of endangered species and never-explored places, Virachey National Park may be the world’s greatest park that has been written off by the international community. But a new book by explorer and PhD student, Greg McCann, hopes to change that. Entitled Called Away by a Mountain Spirit: Journey to the Green Corridor, the book highlights expeditions by McCann into parts of Virachey that have rarely been seen by outsiders and have never been explored scientifically, including rare grasslands that once housed herds of Asian elephants, guar, and Sambar deer, before poachers drove them into hiding, and faraway mountains with rumors of tigers and mainland Javan rhinos.
(04/25/2012) Camera traps have captured rare images of Amur or Siberian tigers in China.
(04/16/2012) Although it’s named Namdapha Tiger Reserve, conservationists had long feared that tigers, along with most other big mammals, were gone from the park in northeast India. However, an extensive camera trap survey has photographed not only Bengal tigers (Panthera tigris tigris), but also Asian elephants (Elephas maximus), which were also thought extirpated from the park. Once dubbed an “empty forest” due to poaching, the new survey shows that Namdapha still has massive conservation potential.
(04/13/2012) Russia has created a massive national park to protect some of the world’s rarest big cats, the critically endangered Amur tigers and leopards, reports the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
(03/19/2012) A single forest corridor links two of Nepal’s great wildlife areas: Chitwan National Park and the Mahabharat mountain range, also known as the “little Himalayas.” The Barandabhar Forest Corridor (BFC) has become essential for the long term survival Nepal’s Indian rhinos (Rhinoceros unicornis) and Bengal tigers (Panthera tigris tigris). Yet, according to a new paper published in mongabay.com’s open access journal Tropical Conservation Society (TCS), the corridor is imperiled by deforestation, a highway, and inconsistent management policies.
(03/13/2012) Although officially declared extinct in 2003, some people believe the Javan tiger (panthera tigris sondaica) is still alive in the island’s Meru Betiri National Park. To prove the big cat has not vanished for good, wildlife officials have installed five camera traps in the park, reports Antara News.
(12/21/2011) Asia Pulp & Paper (APP)’s supplier PT Ruas Utama Jaya has indeed cleared an area of forest it pledged to set aside as a tiger conservation reserve in Sumatra reports a legal analysis by Greenomics, an Indonesian environmental group. The Greenomics’ analysis supports allegations originally set forth in a report published last week by Eyes of the Forest, a coalition of green groups, and seems to refute a press release issued by APP that called the deforestation allegations ‘fiction’.
(12/20/2011) A year’s worth of camera trap videos (see photos and video below) are proving that scaled-up anti-poaching efforts in Thailand’s Western Forest Complex are working. Capturing rare glimpses of endangered, elusive animals—from clouded leopards (Neofelis nebulosa) to banteng (Bos javanicus), a rarely seen wild cattle—the videos highlight the conservation importance of the Western Forest Complex, which includes 17 protected areas in Thailand and Myanmar.
(12/16/2011) Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) continues to mislead the public about its role in destroying rainforests and critical tiger habitat across the Indonesian island of Sumatra, alleges a new report from Eyes on the Forest, a coalition of Indonesian environmental groups including WWF-Indonesia. The report, titled The truth behind APP’s Greenwash, is based on analysis of satellite imagery as well as public and private documentation of forest cleared by logging companies that supply APP, which is owned by the Indonesian conglomerate, Sinar Mas Group (SMG). The report concludes APP’s fiber suppliers have destroyed 2 million hectares of forest in Sumatra since 1984.