Saving wild tigers: A case study in biodiversity loss and challenges to be met for recovery beyond 2010


Correspondence: John Seidensticker, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, National Zoological Park, PO Box 37012, MRC 5503, Washington, DC 20013–7012, USA.


Wild tigers are being annihilated. Tiger range countries and their partners met at the 1st Asian Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation in January 2010 to mandate the creation of the Global Tiger Recovery Program to double the number of tigers by 2022. Only 3200–3600 wild adult tigers remain, approximately half of the population estimated a decade ago. Tigers now live in only 13 countries, all of which are experiencing severe environmental challenges and degradation from the effects of human population growth, brisk economic expansion, rapid urbanization, massive infrastructure development and climate change. The overarching challenge of tiger conservation, and the conservation of biodiversity generally, is that there is insufficient demand for the survival of wild tigers living in natural landscapes. This allows the criminal activities of poaching wild tigers and their prey and trafficking in tiger derivatives to flourish and tiger landscapes to be diminished. The Global Tiger Recovery Program will support scaling up of practices already proven effective in one or more tiger range countries that need wider policy support, usually resources, and new transnational actions that enhance the effectiveness of individual country actions. The program is built on robust National Tiger Recovery Priorities that are grouped into themes: (i) strengthening policies that protect tigers; (ii) protecting tiger conservation landscapes; (iii) scientific management and monitoring; (iv) engaging communities; (v) cooperative management of international tiger landscapes; (vi) eliminating transnational illegal wildlife trade; (vii) persuading people to stop consuming tiger; (viii) enhancing professional capacity of policy-makers and practitioners; and (ix) developing sustainable, long-term financing mechanisms for tiger and biodiversity conservation.