Tigers could triple in Asia

January 26th, 2011 - 6:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 26 (IANS) Asian tiger reserves could support more than 10,000 wild tigers, or three times the current number, if core breeding sites are protected, say the world’s leading conservationists.

The study, co-authored by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) scientists, is the first assessment of the commitment made by all 13 countries at a summit in November that vowed to double tiger population in Asia by 2022.

The study finds that it will take a global effort to ensure that core breeding reserves are connected via habitat corridors, the journal Conservation Letters reports.

“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,” said Eric Dinerstein, chief scientist at WWF and study co-author, according to a WWF statement.

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 humaniger conflict.

Most of the remaining tigers are scattered in small, isolated pockets across 13 Asian countries.

“By saving the tiger, we save all the plants and animals that live under the tiger’s umbrella,” said study co-author John Seidensticker of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in the US.

The authors found that the 20 priority tiger conservation landscapes with the highest probability of long-term tiger survival could support more than 10,500 tigers, including about 3,400 breeding females.

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