WASHINGTON, DC, January 25, 2011 The tiger reserves of Asia could support more than 10,000 wild tigers three times the current number if they are managed as large-scale landscapes that allow for connectivity between core breeding sites, a new paper from some of the world's leading conservation scientists finds. The study, co-authored by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) scientists, is the first assessment of the political commitment made by all 13 tiger range countries at November's historic tiger summit to double the tiger population across Asia by 2022.
"A Landscape-Based Conservation Strategy to Double the Wild Tiger Population" in the current issue of Conservation Letters, finds that the commitment to double tiger numbers is not only possible, but can be exceeded. However, it will take a global effort to ensure that core breeding reserves are maintained and connected via habitat corridors.
"In the midst of a crisis, it's tempting to circle the wagons and only protect a limited number of core protected areas, but we can and should do better," said Dr. Eric Dinerstein, Chief Scientist at WWF and a co-author of the study. "We absolutely need to stop the bleeding, the poaching of tigers and their prey in core breeding areas, but we need to go much further and secure larger tiger landscapes before it is too late."
Wild tiger numbers have declined from about 100,000 in the early 1900s to as few as 3,200 today due to poaching of tigers and their prey, habitat destruction and human/tiger conflict. Most of the remaining tigers are scattered in small, isolated pockets across their range in 13 Asian countries.
"Tiger conservation is the face of biodiversity conservation and competent sustainable land-use management at the landscape level," said study co-author Dr. John Seidensticker of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. "By saving the tiger we save all the plants and animals that live under the tiger's umbrella."
|Contact: Lee Poston|
World Wildlife Fund