Of all the big cats, the tiger is the largest – and the closest to extinction. As recently as 100 years ago, there were as many as 100,000 wild tigers living in Asia. Today, about 3,900 remain in the wild.
The State of the Tiger
The tiger is one of the most iconic animals on earth, but the largest of the big cats is on the brink of extinction. Tigers are globally listed as "Endangered" on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Two of the remaining sub-species — Malayan and Sumatran — are "Critically Endangered." As recently as 100 years ago, as many as 100,000 wild tigers roamed across Asia. Today, about 3,900 tigers are left in the wild, occupying a mere four percent of their former range. This catastrophic population decline is driven by a range of threats, including poaching for the illegal wildlife trade, overhunting of prey species by local people, habitat loss and fragmentation, and human-tiger conflict.
"There are probably no more than 3,900 tigers left in the wild. People are stalking them, people are hunting them, people are taking down the last remnants of their habitat. We can’t let this species go extinct." - Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, CEO, Panthera
Wild tigers are hunted by poachers to meet demand from the $20 billion a year illegal wildlife trade. Tigers are mercilessly targeted for their body parts, including their skins, bones, teeth and other organs, which are consumed for traditional medicinal purposes across Asia, with particularly heavy demand in China.
Poaching is the number one threat to the tiger’s existence. The prevalence of this threat will have a major bearing on whether or not the species goes extinct in many important landscapes.
Every single tiger organ is sold on the black market today. Tiger parts are used for traditional medicines thought to cure ailments ranging from arthritis to epilepsy, with the greatest demand in China. Tiger skins and other parts are also used for décor, indicating status and wealth, across Asia.
The tiger is increasingly under threat from deforestation for agricultural developments, especially monocultures like palm oil plantations. As a result, the species now remains in only around 4% of its historic range.
Habitat loss and overhunting by humans also depletes populations of tiger prey, like deer and wild pigs, forcing tigers to attack livestock to feed themselves and their cubs. Inevitably, this fuels human-tiger conflict, in which villagers take retaliatory measures to protect their herds and communities.
Increase tiger numbers at each site by at least 50% over a ten year period
Panthera’s Tigers Forever Program is working to increase tiger numbers by at least 50% over a ten year period at key sites in India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, and Nepal. Led by Panthera’s Tiger Task Force, the Tigers Forever Program is addressing the most urgent threats to tigers, including poaching, conflict with local people, overhunting of tiger prey species, and habitat loss and fragmentation. Panthera is mitigating these threats by training and outfitting law enforcement patrols to effectively secure protected areas, identifying and protecting tiger habitats, and using cutting-edge camera technology to prevent poaching and protect and monitor tiger and prey populations.