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Can the wild tiger be saved? World's population finally sees first spike in 100 years

Wild tiger populations

(NaturalNews) Great news for the wild tiger – after almost 100 years of constant decline, global populations of this magnificent creature are thought to be on the rise, as reported by Newsweek. According to the most recent data by the World Wildlife Fund, there are approximately 3,890 tigers in the wild today – compared with an estimated 3,200 in 2010.

Populations of wild tigers are estimated using national surveys which have recently been improved – this improvement in methods is thought to be part of the reason why the estimated minimum number has increased. Rising populations in India, Russia, Nepal and Bhutan are thought to also be due to enhanced protection of the amazing species, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Quick facts about wild tigers, as stated by the WWF:
• They are the largest of all Asian big cats
• They depend on sight and sound more than smell
• A tiger can eat up to 88 pounds of meat at one time
• Each tiger can give birth to two or three cubs every two years
• Males can weigh up to 660 pounds

What are the risks to wild tigers?

At the start of the 20th century, there were more than 100,000 tigers in the world, according to a report by Caroline Fraser for Yale Environment 360. Today there are fewer than 4,000.

Tigers face a wide variety of threats, some of which are due to growing human populations which have caused habitat loss and greater exposure to people, as tigers are forced to compete for space. Habitat loss and the increasing amount of fragmentation of the tiger's ideal environment mean that the tiger has to travel farther for food and safety – and that there is an increasing number of conflicts with people, including farmers and their livestock.

According to Newsweek, tigers are also killed by poachers who will sell their body parts, including skin, on the black market to be used as decoration, rugs or in traditional Chinese medicine. Poaching will continue to be a threat for tigers as long as the demand for tiger products exists in China.

Poaching is a problem for a range of species all over the world and has been declared a "national disaster" in Kenya, according to Newsmax. An increase in wealth throughout Asia continues to contribute to the illegal poaching of animals, such as the killing of rhinos for their valuable horns.

But numbers of wild tigers are increasing?

The findings are being praised as an important step towards a pretty challenging goal that was set by governments of countries that have wild populations of tigers in 2010 – to double their numbers worldwide by 2022. The increase has been driven by these political commitments and efforts by relevant countries – the latest report shows that tiger populations are indeed heading in the right direction, as a result of better protection.

It seems that tiger populations are able to rebound fairly promptly if left alone, which has proven to be the case in Nepal, where there numbers have increased by 63% over the last five years, as reported by Newsweek.

According to Ginette Hemley, senior vice president of wildlife conservation at WWF, "This is a pivotal step in the recovery of one of the world's most endangered and iconic species. Together with governments, local communities, philanthropists, and other NGOs, we've begun to reverse the trend in the century-long decline of tigers. But much more work and investment is needed if we are to reach our goal of doubling wild tiger numbers by 2022."

The WWF adds however that every "part of the tiger—from whisker to tail—is traded in illegal wildlife markets, feeding a multi-billion dollar criminal network," and this means that they are still today a prime target for poachers.

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