Conservation Experts Score Victories In Tiger Recovery Efforts
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Tigers have long been emblematic of the fight to save endangered species, with an estimated 3,200 animals left in the wild.
In the battle to keep these big cats alive, the World Conservation Society announced several key victories that suggest the tide may be turning in favor of a recovery from the precipice of extinction.
One of the biggest victories can be found in southwestern India, where 25 years of WCS research and conservation efforts are beginning to show a major rebound of the tiger population in the country´s Western Ghats region of Karnataka State. In Nagarahole and Bandipur National Parks, tigers have actually reached saturation levels, officials said. The local population density of these animals is pushing young tigers out into forest-reserves and through a landscape that holds over a million people.
In Thailand, WCS conservationists report a tiger comeback in that country´s Huai Kha Khaeng (HKK) Wildlife Sanctuary. Observers have seen a complete stop in the illegal hunting of tigers and elephants in the park after a notorious poaching ring was busted and severely sentenced last year.
The WCS also highlighted conservation efforts by the Russian government, which is currently drafting a new law that will outlaw the possession, transportation, and trade of endangered animals. If passed, the new law will close a loophole that allows poachers to possess tiger hides or body parts if they claim they found a deceased animal.
“Tigers are clearly fighting for their very existence, but it´s important to know that there is hope,” said WCS President and CEO CristiÃ¡n Samper. “Victories like these give us the resolve to continue to battle for these magnificent big cats. While the news about tigers has been bleak, these recent developments clearly show how smart strategies and strong partnerships are ensuring tigers are saved for centuries to come.”
While there are many specific and minor victories in various countries around the world, the WCS credits the signals of a recovery to a combination of governmental anti-poaching patrols, voluntary settlement re-locations, and the work of local WCS conservation partners.
“Saving tigers is clearly a team effort,” John Robinson, WCS Executive Vice President of Conservation and Science, said in a statement. “Today´s victories show that through collaboration with governments, law enforcement, fellow conservationists, and local people, we can save these big cats across their range.”
“I am confident that our conservation model of combining solid science with passionate local advocacy and effective government collaboration demonstrates practically how tigers can be brought back in emergent Asia,” added WCS scientist Ullas Karanth who has led the tiger recovery efforts.
The victories announced by the WCS are also a stark reminder of the losses suffered in the fight to save the big cats. Tigers have become extinct in Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Singapore, Turkey, the islands of Bali and Java in Indonesia.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), tigers also face the threat of extinction in China, Nepal, India, and Thailand. Conservationists have expressed concern that the animals could be forgotten as these countries experience a population and economic boom.