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Big Cat Comeback?

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For the past 100 years, the number of wild tigers has been declining. But there might finally be some good news for the big cats. A report released this month by two conservationist groups, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Global Tiger Forum, found nearly 3,890 tigers existing in the wild today, up from 3,200 in 2010. The report also projected the animal’s numbers to continue increasing, doubling within a decade.

Although that’s a significant rise, the current wild tiger population is still much lower than it was a century ago. Experts estimate that there were more than 100,000 wild tigers in the world in 1900. That number has since dropped by more than 97 percent, causing scientists to worry that tigers might soon become extinct. One factor affecting tiger populations is loss of habitat—the natural home or environment of an organism. Poaching (illegal hunting) has also caused the big cat’s numbers to decline. The report’s finding is the first sign that tigers might be making a comeback.

Protection Efforts

Scientists have been working with government officials in nations with tiger habitats, which stretch across Asia, to help the animals. In 2010, leaders from 13 of these countries made a pledge to double the big cat’s worldwide population by 2022.

To uphold the pledge, some of the nations began large-scale conservation efforts, including passing laws to protect the tigers. In four of those countries, the efforts have paid off. Tiger populations in India, Russia, Nepal, and Bhutan have increased over the past six years.

“This offers us great hope and shows that we can save species and their habitats when governments, local communities, and conservationists work together,” Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International, recently said in a press release.

Still in Trouble

Not everyone is so positive about the report’s conclusions, though. Some experts have criticized its accuracy. For one, it included new data on tiger numbers from places where no one had conducted tiger counts before. The experts argue that without previous data from these areas, you can’t count these numbers as an increase. Different countries also used different methods to count tigers, some of which are thought to be incorrect or out-of-date.

Tigers still have a long fight ahead of them. The animals are classified as highly endangered—at risk of dying out completely. In fact, the Cambodian government recently announced that there are no longer any tigers within the country’s borders. National leaders and conservationists will need to continue to work hard to protect the animals if they hope to restore their global numbers.

“There is still no safe place for tigers,” warned WWF spokesman Michael Baltzer. “Southeast Asia, in particular, is at imminent [about to happen] risk of losing its tigers if these governments do not take action immediately.”

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About Barry G. Morris

1 Comment

  1. Dollie

    May 7, 2016 at 4:11 am

    Cheers pal. I do apetacipre the writing.

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