Wild tiger numbers are at an all-time low. We have lost 97% of wild tigers in just over a century. Tigers may be one of the most revered animals, but they are also vulnerable to extinction. As few as 3,200 exist in the wild today.
This big cat is admired and feared in equal parts, by people around the world. If forests are emptied of every last tiger, all that will remain are distant legends and zoo sightings.
Tigers have lost 93% of their historic range. Their habitat has been destroyed, degraded and fragmented by human activities, including the clearing of forests for agriculture and timber trade and development activities such as the building of road networks. Fewer tigers can survive in small, scattered islands of habitat, which lead to a higher risk of inbreeding. These small islands of habitat also make tigers more vulnerable to poaching.
Human Wildlife Conflict
People and tigers increasingly compete for space. The conflict threatens the world’s remaining wild tigers and poses a major problem for communities living in or near tiger forests. As forests shrink and prey gets scarce, tigers are forced to hunt domestic livestock, which many local communities depend on for their livelihood. In retaliation, tigers are killed or captured. “Conflict” tigers are known to end up for sale in black markets. Local community dependence on forests for fuel wood, food and timber also heightens the risk of tiger attacks.
One of the world’s largest tiger populations is found in the Sundarbans—a large mangrove forest area shared by India and Bangladesh on the northern coast of the Indian Ocean. This area harbors Bengal tigers and protects coastal regions from storm surges and wind damage. However, rising sea levels caused by climate change threaten to wipe out these forests and the last remaining habitat of this tiger population. According to a WWF study, without mitigation efforts, projected sea level rise—nearly a foot by 2070—could destroy nearly the entire Sundarbans tiger habitat.
Source: WWF website