25 Mar 2015
Midori Paxton, Regional Technical Advisor, Ecosystems and Biodiversity, Bangkok
There were roughly 100,000 tigers in 1900; that number has tumbled to 3,200 in 2014. UNDP Photo
My first encounter with a wild tiger was pure drama.
I was on safari in India’s Nagarhole National Park and only a few minutes into our game drive, the forest erupted into bedlam. There it was, slipping effortlessly through the dry season undergrowth as everybody held their breaths in a spellbound silence.
But, once the safari over, I felt the pangs of loss. How much longer before this majestic creature is extinct?
Tigers’ decline has been catastrophic.
There were roughly 100,000 tigers in 1900. Poached for traditional medicine, hunted for sport and hounded by the destruction of their habitats this number has tumbled to just 3,200 in 2014.
Last month, for the first time in decades, tigers featured in some good news.
The Indian government announced an increase in wild tiger numbers from 1,706 in 2010 to 2,226 – a 30 percent bounce back.
These astonishing results didn’t come out of nowhere. India is the only country that has an official body, mandated to ensure the nuts and bolts of tiger recovery: regular population surveys, habitat and population monitoring, law enforcement etc.
India is taking a landscape approach.
To protect a tiger one needs to set aside areas strictly for …