WWF Response to “New Estimate for Wild Tigers for India” | WWF Hong Kong

WWF Response to “New Estimate for Wild Tigers for India”

30 July 2019

Conservationists have made continued progress in reversing the decline in number of tigers, one of the most threatened species. According to survey findings just released, the number of India’s wild tiger population is estimated at 2,967 by the government of India, comparing to 2,226 in the last survey conducted in 2014. The survey is believed to be the world’s largest effort invested in any wildlife survey to date. The survey was led by the Wildlife Institute of India and India’s National Tiger Conservation Authority, and WWF experts were part of this unpredecented exercise covering 33 priority sites. The survey started in 2018, involving 593,882 man-days and covering about 381,400 km2 of forest with 26,838 camera traps located in over 20 tiger-occupied states in India. These cameras resulted in 34,858,623 photographs of wildlife of which 76,651 were of tigers and 51,777 were of leopards.

In response to the latest estimate, Mr. Stuart Chapman, WWF’s Leader of the Tigers Alive initiative said, “The updated India tiger population suggests that numerous populations within the country may be stable or growing. The 2018 surveys were also unparalleled in their extent, and provide comprehensive coverage of tiger habitats in India. The persistence of wild tigers can be attributed to enhanced protection, habitat management, increased participation of local communities in tiger conservation, tiger prey management and political will. India continues to lead the way in tiger recovery and has the largest tiger population of any country. We applaud the government of India for championing the conservation of tigers in the wild. This gives hope for the future if the most populous nations on Earth can find a way to recover their tiger populations.”

The ambitious target to double the number of wild tigers across the range reflects what we have to do to save Life on Earth. Mr Eric Wikramanayake, WWF-Hong Kong’s Director of Wildlife & Wetlands said, “the next decade will be critical, not just for tigers, but for a lot more species, ecosystems, ecosystem services, and for humanity. While we can show some successes in recovering tiger populations, there is still a lot to be done. Threats to tigers still remain in several tiger range countries, especially because the demand for tiger parts and products still exists. We have to remain vigilant and committed because the situation is still dire. We urge the Hong Kong Government to include wildlife crime offences under Schedule 1 of the Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance (OSCO) to further deter transnational criminal enterprises that use Hong Kong as a route for wildlife smuggling.”

The populations and range of wild tiger have been dropping significantly since the 20th century due to rampant poaching and habitat destruction. It reached an historic low of around 3,200 in the wild, most in fragmented forests stretching from India to South-eastern China and from the Russian Far East to Sumatra, Indonesia. In 2010, at the Tiger Summit held in St Petersburg, 13 tiger range countries convened and committed to the most ambitious and visionary species conservation goal ever set -- the “TX2” to double world’s wild tiger numbers by 2022, the next year of the tiger.

The latest “Status of Tigers in India – 2018” report released by the Government of India is avaialalbe at http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/files/file/Tiger%20Status%20Report_summary.pdf