Thanks to Green Blog for attention and link to some rather unexpected news, and to Rachel Nuwer for titling her news–“Protected Tigers, Burning Bright”–in a manner we appreciate for its allusion as much as its information:
Tigers have delivered a bit of holiday cheer: populations are on the upswing, it turns out, in some protected areas in India and Thailand. In a field often dominated by news of felled forests and population declines, wildlife conservationists have taken heart from this development, while noting that tigers have a long, long way to go if they are to claw their way off the endangered species list.
“If the conditions are right, tiger populations can recover, though there’s still plenty of challenges,” said Cristián Samper, the president and chief executive of the Wildlife Conservation Society. “I think the encouraging news is that we now know it can work.”
At the start of the 20th century, tigers numbered around 100,000 and occupied forests from Turkey to Russia to Indonesia. Today around 3,200 wild tigers occupy just 6 percent of their historic range as a result of habitat destruction, retaliatory killings and poaching for the illegal wildlife trade. “We’ve reached a point where tigers are so much in danger of being lost that we suddenly value them and realize how important it is to hold on to them,” said John Robinson, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s chief conservation officer.
The Wildlife Conservation Society first homed in on the tiger problem in the 1960s, starting with India. Thanks in part to a strong commitment from the Indian government, tigers in the Western Ghats region of Karnataka State have quadrupled in number over the past 30 years, with more than 600 of the large cats currently living in the area.