For the First Time in Decades, an Increase in the Number of Tigers

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The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Global Tiger Forum announced on April 10, 2016, that the estimated population of tigers in the wild had increased for the first time in more than 100 years. Based on data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature and national surveys, the number of wild tigers was calculated to be 3,890. In 2010 the global tiger population had been estimated to be “as few as 3,200.”

The announcement coincided with the start of the 3rd Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation, held in New Delhi, India, and attended by representatives of the 13 countries that are home to wild tigers. At the first such conference, held six years earlier, a goal was set to double the tiger population by the year 2022. (Both 2010 and 2022 are known as the year of the tiger in the Chinese calendar.)

At the beginning of the 20th century, more than 100,000 tigers roamed free. But the population gradually declined for decades as a result of hunting and habitat loss. In fact, the WWF recently declared tigers to be “functionally extinct” in Cambodia, where they were once common. The reported increase in other countries—India, Russia, Nepal, and Bhutan—brought hope that global conservation efforts had been successful. Some experts, however, cautioned that the turnaround might have more to do with improvements in data gathering.

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