Glimmer of Hope for Threatened Tigers
This Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) was caught on a camera trap in Nepal's Terai Arc Landscape as part of an estimate of tiger populations.
Credit: Government of Nepal

The wild tiger population is at a tipping point, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Tigers are experiencing a range collapse, occupying 40 per cent less habitat than just a decade ago, the group estimates. There may be as few as 1,300 tigers left in India, the species' stronghold.

So a new census of tigers in Nepal is a rare bright spot. Officials counted somewhere between 100 and 194 breeding tigers exist in the wild within four protected areas of Nepal. Tigers there had never been counted before nationwide, but the numbers were up in one area while thought to be down on two others.

The officials are not celebrating, however.

Tigers remain threatened by poaching and habitat loss across their range, the group said in a statement today.

The poaching is linked to illegal international trade in tiger parts and derivatives (skin, bones and meat and for some traditional Chinese medicines.

"In spite of the decade long insurgency, encroachment, poaching and illegal trade, the present numbers is a positive sign, but we can't remain unworried," said Anil Manandhar, with the WWF in Nepal. "The declining numbers in western Nepal has posed more challenges, needing a concerted effort to save this charismatic endangered species focusing on anti-poaching and illegal wildlife trade."