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Endangered Species and Tigers: Count Them to Keep Them?

Jul 29, 2015 02:05 PM EDT
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In 2010, tigers worldwide were estimated at 3200. More countries are conducting tiger surveys, to keep ahead of poachers.
Some organizations for most countries to turn in tiger-survey results in 2016, to form a new global number. July 29 is Global Tiger Day, to recognize the endangered cat.
(Photo : Wikipedia Commons)

Organizations and zoos have sometimes urged people to "show their stripes" on July 29 for Global Tiger Day.  This is because, in addition to having distinctive coats, the cats are endangered and have uncertain numbers worldwide. Their international recognition started in 2010 at the St. Petersburg "Tiger Summit," when the global wild tiger population was estimated to be as few as 3200.

That number was an estimate, because many countries had not then undertaken tiger surveys, said Michael Baltzer, leader of World Wildlife Fund's Tigers Alive Initiative, in a release. While countries including India, Nepal, and Russia are now conducting the surveys, others are not--leaving an uncertainty about the number and a weakness in our tiger protection steps, a release notes.

Tigers' greatest threat is poaching. Statistics from TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network, say that at least 1590 tigers were seized between January 2000 and April 2014. Actual poaching levels are likely to be much higher, as a release notes.

Tiger numbers will soon be known for Bhutan, Bangladesh and China. However, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam at this point do not know their tiger numbers, says a release. The fear is that if tiger numbers are not known, they could be lost to poachers without the countries' being aware.

One goal is for the remaining countries to conduct 6-12 month tiger surveys and turn in their information in 2016, to solidify a global number, a release noted.

If you'd like more information, organizations working to save wild tigers include the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Wildlife Conservation Society, the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Information Programs, and the Global Tiger Initiative.

Follow Catherine on Twitter at @TreesWhales

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