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Over half of world’s tiger reserves lack minimum protection

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.

A brown bear in Alaska. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
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).

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New analysis supports claim that paper giant cleared part of its tiger sanctuary in Indonesia

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