Khan, a 2-year-old male Bengali white tiger, is seen inside a cage at the Royev Ruchey zoo in Krasnoyarsk (Photo : Reuters)
As low as 3,200 tigers roam in the wild in 2012, but the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has announced that the endangered animal is making a comeback in Asia. While the World Wildlife Fund reports that the predator has been reduced to 93 percent of its historic range, conservationist government programs aimed at undermining poachers and eliminating legal loopholes for their allies has resulted in a population boom in Russia, Thailand, and India.
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Ullas Karnath, a WCS scientist, notes: "I am confident that our conservation model of combining solid science and passionate local advocacy and effective government collaboration demonstrates practically how tigers can be brought back in emergent Asia."
So, what steps have each of these nations taken on the path to repopulation?
Russia has tackled criminal activity with legislation that will designate the transportation and sale of endangered animals like the tiger a criminal offense, giving law enforcement teeth in the conservation movement. The Kremlin has also taken steps to set aside land for tigers to reside, free of human intervention.
Thailand has strengthened its anti-poaching enforcement as well, particularly in the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary.
India has similarly toughened up its anti-poaching patrols and relocated villages away from tiger territory.
"Tigers are clearly fighting for their very existence, but it's important to know that there is hope. Victories like these give us the resolve to continue to battle for these magnificent big cats. While the news about tigers has been bleak, these recent developments clearly show how smart strategies and strong partnerships are ensuring tigers are saved for centuries to come," says WCS President Cristián Samper.