Tiger numbers could triple if large-scale landscapes protected: study

Asia’s tiger reserves could support more than 10,000 wild tigers – three times the current number – if they are managed as large-scale landscapes that allow for connectivity between core breeding sites, a new paper from some of the world’s leading conservation scientists finds.
The study, co-authored by WWF scientists, is the first assessment of the political commitment made by all 13 tiger range countries at November’s historic tiger summit to double the tiger population across Asia by 2022.
A Landscape-Based Conservation Strategy to Double the Wild Tiger Population” in the current issue of Conservation Letters, finds that the commitment to double tiger numbers is not only possible, but can be exceeded. However, it will take a global effort to ensure that core breeding reserves are maintained and connected via habitat corridors.
“In the midst of a crisis, it’s tempting to circle the wagons and only protect a limited number of core protected areas, but we can and should do better,” said Dr. Eric Dinerstein, Chief Scientist at WWF and a co-author of the study.
“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.”
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 human/tiger conflict. Most of the remaining tigers are scattered in small, isolated pockets across their range in 13 Asian countries.
“Tiger conservation is the face of biodiversity conservation and competent sustainable land-use management at the landscape level,” said study co-author Dr. John Seidensticker of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.
“By saving the tiger we save all the plants and animals that live under the tiger’s umbrella.”
Past examples show that an increase in tiger numbers is possible
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. They also looked at historical examples to prove that a doubling or tripling is possible using large landscapes:
In the jungles of lowland Nepal, tiger numbers crashed during civil conflict from 2002 to 2006. However, tigers did not disappear because Nepal and India’s tiger reserves are linked by forest corridors, which likely allowed for replenishment from India;
In the Russian Far East tigers, almost disappeared in the 1940s but the region was re-populated by tigers moving in from northeastern China. Recently designated habitat corridors across the Sino-Russia border are helping tigers re-establish themselves in China’s Changbaishan mountains, where they had disappeared in the 1990s.
In India’s Nagarahole National Park, tiger numbers are “healthy and resilient” because the park is connected to other reserves in the region. Tigers number almost 300 in this large landscape of connected parks and reserves.
And population declines are also possible without connectivity between habitats
In contrast, the authors point to two of India’s premier tiger reserves to show how lack of connectivity can preclude tiger population recovery. Tigers disappeared from Sariska and Panna tiger reserves in 2005 and 2009 due to poaching and were not able to re-colonize because these reserves are not connected to other reserves through habitat corridors. Consequently, wild tigers had to be translocated into these reserves to attempt to re-establish populations.
Besides poaching and habitat loss, the $7.5 trillion in infrastructure projects like roads, dams and mines that will be invested in Asia over the next decade threatens tiger landscapes. A focus only on core sites and protected areas like reserves, instead of larger landscapes, could be seen by developers and politicians as a green light to move forward with harmful infrastructure projects outside of core sites.
“Without strong countervailing pressures, short-term economic gains will inevitably trump protection of the critical ecosystems necessary for sustainable development,” said Keshav Varma, Program Director of the Global Tiger Initiative at the World Bank.
The authors insist that conservationists and governments must be involved in helping design infrastructure projects to mitigate their impacts on tigers both inside core sites and in current and potential forest corridors. A recently built oil depot in India’s Terai Arc, for example, severed a vital elephant and tiger corridor. Conservationists are now in litigation to remove the depot. Early intervention could have avoided this.
“Following the St. Petersburg Declaration, Nepal has committed to the goal of doubling wild tiger numbers across our country by 2022,” said Deepak Bohara, Nepal’s Minister for Forests and Soil Conservation.
“This analysis shows that it can be done, not just in Nepal, but, if done right with careful study and planning, across the entire tiger range. It is also worth noting that the tiger conservation provides carbon credits, protects water resources, and complements community development efforts. Thus, it is important to promote regional cooperation to maintain a healthy tiger corridor between different reserves.”

 
Via: wwf.panda.org                                                              Image credit: Dominic Harness/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Related News

Tigers in the Sundarbans survive hardship

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Tigers in the Sundarbans are in imminent danger of being hungry due to the rising spotted deer poaching. The big cats, well-known as the Royal Bengal Tiger in the southern mangrove forest of the country hunt spotted deer, monkey, and wild boar. According to a review study by the Implementation, Monitoring ... Read more

No country for elephants

Mostafa Yousuf As if it wasn’t hard enough for elephants to survive in this country, in a tragic development, it was discovered that they are not just dying by electrocution. Shooting down the animals straight up has become seemingly rampant to protect encroached forest lands. In Cox’s Bazar, 18 elephants were shot down in the ... Read more

Snakes help monitor Fukushima Fallout

Researchers have equipped snakes with tracking devices and dosimeters to measure the radiation levels in the vicinity of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan, in which there were three core meltdowns in March 2011 – one of the largest anthropogenic releases of radioactive contamination in history. Radiation leaks forced tens of thousands of people ... Read more

Cheetah the best sprinter on earth

The fastest cheetah on Earth has done it again, breaking her previous world record for the 100-meter dash and setting a new best time of 5.95 seconds. This feat surpasses the fastest of all human 100-meter sprinters by almost four seconds. Usain Bolt, a Jamaican sprinter now competing at the 2012 London Olympics, holds the ... Read more

Western black rhino declared extinct

No wild black rhinos remain in West Africa, according to the latest global assessment of threatened species, the Red List, drawn up by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The IUCN reports that despite conservation efforts, 25% of the world’s mammals are at risk of extinction. As part of its latest work it ... Read more

The Jurassic cheetah

Supercheetah The Jurassic cheetah Obaidur Rahman Paleontologist from Senckenberg Research Institute, Weimar, Germany, recently unearthed the remains of a cheetah which might just have been the bloodiest killers of the ancient times wandering at one of the oldest known habitat of human beings. It is well known that the only remaining species of cheetah, Acinonyx ... Read more

Unique pig-nosed turtle is over-harvested in New Guinea

Numbers of pig-nosed turtles have declined steeply over the past 30 years, researchers have discovered. The unique reptile has become an international conservation icon, due to it having no close relatives and being considered the turtle most adapted to life underwater in freshwater ponds and rivers. Yet demand for its eggs and meat in Papua ... Read more

‘Ants can identify their worst enemy’

A study of the ant species Temnothorax longispinosus has revealed that it can spot its worst enemy and react with appropriate aggression. The ant colonies are often invaded by slavemaker ants, which steal their pupae. So when the ants spot a slavemaker, they attempt to kill it by biting and stinging. But the insects do ... Read more

Birds eavesdrop on predator chipmunks

Ground-nesting birds eavesdrop on chipmunks in order to protect their nests, according to scientists. Ovenbirds and veeries live alongside egg-eating chipmunks in the Hudson Valley, New York, US. Researchers have found that when simulated chipmunk calls are played, the birds nest up to 20 metres further away. The study is the first to show that ... Read more

Wildlife in jeopardy

Hunger, death on offer as forests vanish fast The number of phone calls we receive every day is amazing. People call to say fishing cats have been killed or captured. Jungle cat kittens found. Vultures lying sick. And of course, tigers have been killed. If we put together all these pieces of information, we get ... Read more

12,000km in 357 days

Sea turtle routes tracked The first turtle that was tagged in Bangladesh with a satellite chip to track its journey last year has travelled over 12,000 kilometres in 357 days and is now coming back to Bangladesh coast from Sri Lanka. Urmee, the name of the turtle, has crossed the path until March 23, 2011. ... Read more

Bay the global hotspot

More than 10,000 endangered whales and dolphins of six species have made the Bay of Bengal and the Sundarbans estuary a safe home, a month long survey reveals. A group of Bangladeshi wildlife scientists headed by Dr Anisuzzaman Khan carried out the survey and recently revealed that the Bay is still a good abode of ... Read more

Amur tigers in population crisis

The effective population of the critically endangered Amur tiger is now fewer than 14 animals, say scientists. Approximately 500 Amur tigers actually survive in the wild, but the effective population is a measure of the genetic diversity of the world’s largest cat. Very low diversity means any vulnerability to disease or rare genetic disorders is ... Read more

Rare goose spotted

A rare species of goose was spotted for the first time in the country in Hakaluki Haor of Moulvibazar district last Saturday. A group of bird watchers led by eminent bird specialists Dr Enam al Haque and Paul Thompson have found the ‘lesser white-fronted goose’ on the concluding day of the two-day bird enumeration session ... Read more

Chernobyl birds small brained

Birds living around the site of the Chernobyl nuclear accident have 5 percent smaller brains, an effect directly linked to lingering background radiation. The finding comes from a study of 550 birds belonging to 48 different species living in the region, published in the journal PLoS One. Brain size was significantly smaller in yearlings compared ... Read more

Two new mammals found

Two new species of mammals have been discovered in Bangladesh, taking the total number of mammals of the country to 124. The Himalayan Striped Squirrel (Tamiops macclellandi) and Least Leaf-nosed Bat (Hipposideros cineraceus) are only the second and third new mammals to be found in the country in last five years. The first new mammal, ... Read more

Historic tiger summit closes with plans to secure more financial backing

St. Petersburg, Russia: The historic International Tiger Conservation Forum ended with crucial plans to discuss further financing options for the Global Tiger Recovery Programme approved at the meeting, kick-starting new efforts to double the number of wild tigers. On the final day of the summit, delegates met briefly to hammer out key dates in the ... Read more

Over 1,000 Tigers Killed In Past Decade

The illegal trade in tiger parts has led to more than 1,000 wild tigers being killed over the past decade, a report suggests. Traffic International, a wildlife trade monitoring network, found that skins, bones and claws were among the most common items seized by officials. The trade continues unabated despite efforts to protect the cats, ... Read more

U.S. military ingenuity applied to epidemic destroying honey bees

A group of Montana researchers working with the United States military has proposed a new, unique answer to the ongoing global epidemic destroying honey bee colonies: A fungus and virus working in tandem, aided by mites, may be the cause. The ongoing honey bee deaths are widespread, causing losses in the USA, Europe and Asia. ... Read more

Vultures face extinction

Oriental vultures are disappearing so fast that their population dropped by 95 percent in Bangladesh in the last two decades, due to feeding on carcasses of cattle treated with anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac, said experts. Diclofenac is widely used in human medicine globally, and was introduced to the veterinary market in the Indian subcontinent in early ... Read more