According to the Chinese Lunar Calendar, we are now in "The Year of the Tiger." After 1.5 million years of existence, however, tigers could become extinct during our lifetime, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society, which has just released a "report card" for wild tigers in Asia.
The report card is part of a larger effort, known as Tigers Forever, which is a collaborative initiative between the WCS and the wild cat conservation group Panthera.
You can download the full color "report card" booklet here: Download TigerReport0210_r4.
The booklet mentions key threats to tigers and presents the status of eight priority landscapes where WCS and Panthera work across Asia.
"In this Year of the Tiger, the best way we can celebrate these iconic big cats is by giving them a future," said Steven Sanderson in a press release. Sanderson is the president and CEO of the WCS. "Each landscape where WCS works presents a unique set of challenges for conservationists, but all are bound by a common vision: to restore tiger numbers wherever possible throughout their range."
According to the report, tigers are increasingly threatened at the boundary region between Russia and China, Indonesia's Gunung Leuser landscape, Myanmar's Hukaung Valley, Malaysia's Endau-Rompin Landscape, and Laos' Nam Et-Phou Louey landscape. The most threatened region, in terms of its tiger population, appears to be Cambodia's Eastern Plains. Just 10 tigers remain there.
"While the situation with wild tigers is dire, the good news is that we know what is needed to reverse it," said Panthera's president and CEO, Alan Rabinowitz. "Tigers Forever is an effective model that shows us that we can bring tigers back—and we already are at specific sites across the tiger's range."
These promising sites include India's Western Ghats region and Thailand's Western Forest Complex. Both received the report card's highest green rating.
Humans remain the biggest threat to tigers, with poaching, habitat loss and direct conflicts being some of the most prevalent problems. The WCS estimates that only 3,000 wild tigers are left in the world today. About half of those live in India.