Survey Has Surprisingly Good News on Tigers



Wildlife groups are still very worried about the world’s tigers, but the situation isn’t quite as bleak as earlier thought, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The group says there are an estimated 3,726 to 5,578 wild tigers in the world, up 40% from the 2015 estimate, NPR reports. The group says much of the increase is the result of better counting, but conservation efforts are also paying off in some countries. The IUCN says tigers remain on the endangered list, with major threats including poaching and habitat loss, but the global population “appears to be stable or increasing.”

A “fairly significant chunk” of the increase can be “explained by the fact that we’re better at counting them, that many governments in particular have really sort of moved heaven and earth to do massive scale surveys,” Luke Hunter, executive director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s big cat program, tells NPR. He says conserving tigers saves “very large wilderness landscapes, with a huge host of biodiversity but also a whole bunch of benefits to the human communities that live in and around those landscapes.”

The IUCN says the key to tigers’ survival will be expanding and connecting protected areas, as well as working with communities in and around tiger habitats. The World Wildlife Fund announced similar encouraging findings in a report issued earlier this year to mark the start of the Year of the Tiger. The group said that after a century of decline, tiger populations were recovering in their main habitats in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Russia, and China, AFP reports. (Migratory monarch butterflies, however, are now on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species.)

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