It’s January, so (if you live in the Northern hemisphere) I’m sure you could do with some good news to cheer you up. You’re in luck! Figures released this week show that the tiger population in India has gone up by 30% in the last 4 years.
Tigers are an endangered species, and their numbers have plummeted by 95% over the last century. They now live in just 7% of their original range. Habitat loss and poaching are the main reasons behind this decline. India is home to around 70% world’s remaining wild tigers, so an increase here is very encouraging.
A few years ago I was lucky enough to see tigers in the wild in India. It was an amazing experience. Tigers have to be my favourite animal – they’re so powerful. And stripy. Stripes just look great on any animal (that’s why zebra are cooler than other antelopes), but in burning amber and forest black on a tiger they’re hypnotic.
While in India we saw 5 individual tigers (two mothers, and 3 almost fully-grown cubs). That came to about 0.2% of the world’s population of tigers. 5 individuals should not make up that large a proportion of any animal species.
With numbers that low, it’s easy to assume the tiger’s time is up. But the latest news from India is not the only good tiger news there’s been recently. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the number of tigers in Nepal has increased by 60% since 2009. These two success stories show that, with enough political will, effort and funding, the decline can be reversed. They’re not a reason to be complacent – the population is still fragile, but all is not lost yet. It’s not inevitable that tigers will become extinct. We need to do more to protect these wonderful cats.