In less than 100 years, however, the wild population is estimated to have fallen to as low as 3,200. Entire sub-species such as the Caspian, Javan and Balinese tigers have gone extinct while the south China tiger may have also disappeared from the wild. The tiger’s once wide distribution has shrunk by 93 percent and in most cases tiger populations are restricted to a few desperate refuges in these last remaining patches of habitat. The future for the tiger could not look bleaker.
The world’s largest cat and most effective land predator, the tiger dominates the forests in which it lives. Since tigers need a constant supply of prey and, consequently, vast areas to maintain robust populations, and often pose a threat to local people and their livestock, the struggle for the tiger’s survival in the wild is one of the greatest challenges facing wildlife conservation today.
What's Tigers Alive?
In response to the urgency of the crisis and to grasp the opportunities just outlined, WWF has launched a revitalised programme, Tigers Alive. We aim to stop the decline of the wild tiger and help create and support the conditions to double the number of tigers in the wild in the next 12 years.
Together with our partners, WWF is mobilising the full force of its vast network — from the field biologists monitoring the tiger and its prey, trainers building the capacity of forest staff, and rangers protecting critical sites for tigers, to the financial experts working with donors and governments to create new funding mechanisms for tiger protection, and the policy and advocacy specialists working with decision makers. WWF’s Tigers Alive Initiative operates in 12 of the 13 tiger range countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Tiger conservation has been a priority for WWF in these countries for the past decade, and more in some. During this time, we have gained valuable experience, developed expertise, and forged critical partnerships and collaborations with various stakeholders.
TRAFFIC, WWF’s joint programme with IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, specialises in wildlife trade issues, working with external partners on the ground to address poaching and trafficking issues. With the increase in sophistication in the methods of poaching and illegal trade, it has become clear that we must do more, and find new ways to complement tried and tested methods.
The Landscape Approach
Tigers are “landscape” species – they need large areas with diverse habitats, free from human disturbance and rich in prey. In all the landscapes they live, tigers play a significant role in the structure and function of the ecosystem on which both humans and wildlife rely. WWF has identified 12 landscapes where we will focus our attention. Amur-Heilong – China and Russia;Kaziranga–Karbi Anglong – India;Satpuda-Maikal – India;Western Ghats-Nilgiris – India; Greater Manas – Bhutan and India;Sundarbans – Bangladesh and India;Terai Arc – India and Nepal;Forests of the Lower Mekong – Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam;Dawna-Tennaserim – Myanmar and Thailand;Banjaran Titiwangsa – Malaysia;Central Sumatra – Indonesia;Southern Sumatra – Indonesia.
It is our long-term aim to restore tigers within these landscapes, where ensuring their security and well-being is feasible and where they will not cause unavoidable conflict with humans. Focusing on these sites supports our tiger conservation objectives, and also those of other WWF flagship species, such as rhinos and elephants, as well as other species we work on, including the snow leopard, Amur leopard, mainland clouded leopard, Sunda clouded leopard, red panda, Eld’s deer, banteng and saola.