TIGER

CONSERVATION STATUS:

Endangered

WILD POPULATION:

3,900

POPULATION TREND:

Increasing

Tigers are potentially one of the most iconic animals on our planet. As well as being such striking creatures to look at, they serve an important role in the wild as top predators, and therefore, help to keep their environment healthy.

Tigers are split into nine subspecies. Three of these are already extinct (Bali, Javan and Caspian tigers) and one is classed as functionally extinct (South China tiger). The other five subspecies still survive in the wild today; Sumatran, Malayan, Indochinese, Siberian (also known as Amur) and Bengal.

Sadly, these five remaining subspecies are threatened with extinction. In 1900, there were around 100,000 wild tigers. Within 100 years, the world tiger population declined by over 95% because of human activity. They have already gone extinct in eleven countries.

Back in 2010 there were estimated to be only 3,200 left in the wild. Research suggests that this number has now increased to 3,900, and so their numbers are on the rise thanks to vital conservation work.

It's important to know that although the overall tiger population is on the rise, this isn't the case for all subspecies of tiger. The Bengal tiger is the only subspecies which appears to be thriving again, thanks to strong conservation efforts across the countries where it's found. This is not the case for the other subspecies. Siberian tiger numbers appear to be stable, however, much more work is needed for them to increase. Sumatran, Malayan and Indochinese tiger populations are suspected to still be declining and much more focus on these subspecies is needed to ensure their future.

The flourishing Bengal tiger isn't found in the same habitats as the other four subspecies. Therefore, if the other subspecies were to go extinct then those ecosystems would lose their top predator, upsetting the balance of the environment.

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THREATS

Illegal wildlife trade (poached for traditional medicine, tiger bone wine, products made with tiger skin and the exotic pet trade).

 

Tiger farming (Legal breeding of tigers in captivity to supply body parts for products - this in turn fuels the illegal poaching of wild tigers).

Habitat loss (due to farming, urban development, mining, palm oil and timber harvesting).

Overhunting of prey species by local people.

Human-tiger conflict (tigers eating farmer's livestock due to a lack of natural prey).

 

Unethical tourism (facilities which keep tigers purely for commercial gain e.g. circuses, roadside zoos and unethical 'sanctuaries').

Climate change.

War and civil unrest.

Population isolation (a by-product of habitat loss, where tigers are isolated from the wider population making it harder for them to reproduce).

To find out in more detail about the threats to tigers, go the Panthera's page here.

WHAT CAN WE DO?

Tigers are the most endangered of all species of big cat. If we're going to ensure a future for them then serious action needs to be taken. Below, we've come up with ways in which we all can help as individuals if we choose to:

The first and most critical way to help is donating to conservation efforts. This is the best thing you can do to help secure a future for tigers. The threats they face are complicated issues and there are plenty of organisations carrying out exceptional work to untangle these problems. Scroll down to the bottom of this page to find the organisations which we recommend.

 TOP TIP: One of the biggest threats to the critically endangered Sumatran tiger is palm oil. Sumatran tigers, as the name suggests, are only found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The island is one of the biggest hotspots for deforestation for palm oil plantations. Palm oil is a complicated issue and boycotting it may well not be the best solution for the planet. Opting for sustainable palm oil is certainly a step in the right direction, find out more here.

 

Sumatran tiger habitat is also cleared to make way for coffee plantations. Only opting for sustainably produced coffee is a great way to prevent this happening. Look out for the Rainforest Alliance logo shown below. It should be printed on the packaging of coffee which has been produced sustainably.

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Tigers are also losing their habitat to the forestry trade. Opting for sustainably sourced, or better yet second-hand, products made from wood are both brilliant ways to help combat this problem. You could also take a look at our Paper Problems page for tips on how to cut down on paper usage.

Climate change poses a threat to tigers, particularly those found in the Sundarbans, a huge area of mangrove forests found in Bangladesh and India. Rising sea levels in this area are causing a reduction of habitat for the tigers found here, one of the largest populations of Bengal tigers in the world. Therefore, combatting climate change is also a brilliant way to help protect tigers. Take a look at our Climate Change page to find out individual actions you could take to help prevent the problem.

Being a responsible tourist is another great way to help solve the problem. If you watched Netflix's, Tiger King: Murder Mayhem and Madness, then you should have an idea by now that attractions offering opportunities to handle wild cats generally don't have the animals' well being at heart. As well as animal welfare issues, these types of attractions can have a disastrous effect on wild tiger populations and also draw away vital funding from wild tiger conservation. That's because a lot of these 'sanctuaries', which are actually breeding tigers, struggle to fund looking after them and so rely on donations. You can find out more about this issue in Panthera's article here.

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Perhaps the most exciting way to help is to travel to see tigers in the wild. Tigers are found across 13 countries in Asia, although some of these are now suspected to have very few tigers left. Your best chance of seeing them in the wild would be in India. However you may also have a chance of seeing them in Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Russia, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia or the Indonesian island of Sumatra, as these all have viable wild tiger populations. Going on a safari is a great way of letting the government of that particular country know that protecting its wildlife is important. It's also a great way to learn more about wildlife conservation. Just make sure to avoid elephant ride safaris, as these fuel cruel practices and have a negative effect on wild elephant populations. 

There are also ecotourism activities/volunteer holidays that you could take part in, allowing you to directly participate in tiger conservation. Scroll down to the 'Ecotourism' section below to find out more.

If travelling to see tigers in the wild doesn't appeal, or isn't a realistic option for you, then many places around the world keep tigers in captivity. It's important to know that although it's exciting to see wild animals up close, their well-being in a cage is certainly questionable. If you really want to see tigers in captivity then our guidance would be that with that desire to see one, you also have the desire to learn more about how we can protect them in the wild. Using advice from this page, or that you learn elsewhere, we encourage you to take some action to protect wild tigers. If you want to visit tigers in captivity then we recommend that you do your research beforehand and choose somewhere that is supporting tiger conservation with its profits.

UK ONLY: Volunteering your time is also a useful way to contribute to tiger conservation. Save Wild Tigers are regularly looking for volunteers to help out at fundraising events around the UK. 

Another way to help is to shop for products which support tiger conservation:

Our founder, Chad Killoran, has a website selling prints of his paintings. If you're interested you could buy a print of his tiger painting, shown below, and a percentage of the profit goes towards MYCAT who are carrying out essential work to protect the critically endangered Malayan tiger.

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Save Wild Tigersonline shop sells a variety of t-shirts, hoodies and tote bags. 

Tigers4Ever's online shop sells t-shirts, hoodies and sweatshirts. 

If you shop with Amazon then you could use AmazonSmile. It's the same as Amazon only when you shop they donate a percentage of the profit to a charity you choose, at no extra cost to you! If you're based in the United Kingdom, you could go to the UK site and select Tigers4Ever or WWF UK as your chosen charity. If you're based in the US, you could go to the US site and choose Nepal Tiger Project, PantheraBorn Free USA or the World Wildlife Fund as your chosen charity.

Refusing to buy products made with tiger parts, such as trinkets, rugs or tiger bone wine, and encouraging others to do the same are also useful ways in which to protect tigers. If you come across the sale of tiger products then Save Wild Tigers have some useful information as to how to report this. You can find it by scrolling down to point 4 on their page here.

Education is another great way to help, as much of our planet's future is dependant on the young people of our world. Save Wild Tigers has put together some brilliant tiger educational resources to help raise awareness of the tiger.

If you live in a democratic country then another way to help tiger conservation is to vote for government representatives and legislation that protect wildlife.​ You could write to your local representative asking them to push your government to increase funding for tiger conservation and pressure other countries to stop commercial tiger trade.​

USA ONLY: If you are a U.S. citizen, another positive action to take would be letting your Members of Congress know you'd like them to support the Big Cat Public Safety Act. The passing of this bill would help put a stop to commercial captive breeding and exploitation of tigers in the USA.

One of the best ways to help is to spread the word about this page and what you've learnt about the challenges facing tigers. Awareness is the first step towards solving any problem! 

PETITIONS

Signing the following petitions could bring about positive change for wild tigers:

Born Free's petition is calling on all countries to improve enforcement of the ban on international trade in tiger parts and products, and to close down all tiger farms and other facilities breeding tigers for trade.

As well as being a cruel practice, these farms lead to the poaching and trafficking of wild tigers.

Rainforest Rescue's petition is urging the parliament of Aceh to stop the 'Aceh Spatial Plan'. The Leuser Ecosystem on Sumatra is the last place on Earth where orangutans, elephants, rhinos and the critically endangered Sumatran tiger share a habitat. This new plan would allow road construction, plantations and mining in this area, threatening the survival of these species.

Georgina B's petition is urging the Indonesian government to take urgent action to save the critically endangered Sumatran Tiger by increasing armed patrols to stop poachers and protecting tiger habitat from destruction by palm oil companies.

Rainforest Rescue's petition is calling upon the government of Bangladesh to cancel its construction plans for a coal power station, which will destroy part of the Sundarbans mangrove forest, home to one of the largest populations of Bengal tiger.

 Care2's petition is appealing to Thailand's Million Years Stone Park to stop using tigers for unethical tourist selfies and release their poorly treated tigers to a sanctuary.

SAGE's petition is asking the Indian government to stop its plans to build a road through Rajaji Tiger Reserve.

Care2's petition is urging President Trump not to pardon Joe Exotic, also known as the Tiger King, of his 22-year prison sentence. 

Dr Muralidhar's petition is asking the Indian government to stop its plans for uranium mining in India's Amrabad Tiger Reserve.

Jack Taylor's petition is appealing to the Chinese government to reintroduce its ban on tiger parts being used in Chinese medicine.

#EndTheTrade Coalition's petition is calling on our world’s governments to permanently end the commercial trade and sale in markets of wild terrestrial animals worldwide.

CONSERVATION TOURISM

NEPAL: Nepal Tiger Trust is a Nepalese tiger conservation organisation. If you're feeling adventurous, a brilliant way to help in tiger conservation is to volunteer with NTT in Nepal's Chitwan National Park, home to wild Bengal tigers. Volunteer activities include helping to check camera traps, tiger tracking, habitat analyses, anti-poaching activities and local tiger awareness campaigns.

MALAYSIA: MYCAT is a Malaysian organisation striving to protect the critically endangered Malayan tiger. For anyone considering travelling to Malaysia, MYCAT's 'Cat Walks' are a thrilling way to contribute to tiger conservation. They are anti-poaching, anti-deforestation guided walks through critical tiger habitat. Whilst enjoying a hike through the forest, you will keep your eyes open for illegal activities and signs of endangered species.

CONSERVATION ORGANISATIONS

The following organisations are all carrying out critical work to provide a long-lasting future for wild tiger populations:

MYCAT's goal is to prevent the extinction of the critically endangered Malayan tiger and see its population thrive again. They are making this happen by engaging local communities to protect tigers, working with the government to improve policies to better protect tigers and their habitat, reforesting damaged habitat and spreading awareness of how to play a part in saving tigers.

Sumatran Ranger Project's objective is to ensure the long-term protection of North Sumatra's Leuser Ecosystem, home of one of the last viable populations of the critically endangered Sumatran tiger.

They are a community conservation initiative. Their work involves patrolling tiger habitat, deactivating traps and snares, providing community outreach and education, mitigating wildlife conflict, collecting data and identifying and implementing alternative livelihood schemes.

Nepal Tiger Trust's mission is to protect Nepal's tigers forever. Their work includes long-term tiger monitoring, mitigating human-tiger conflict, supporting anti-poaching efforts in collaboration with park management and local communities and also raising awareness to both local and global communities.

Phoenix Fund carry out important projects aimed at conserving the biodiversity of the Russian Far East, with an emphasis on endangered Amur tigers and leopards. They currently have two Amur tiger fundraising campaigns; the first is an educational program for local communities and the second is for essential ranger patrols in tiger habitat, both are great options for donating directly to Amur tiger conservation.

Save Wild Tigers strives towards preventing the extinction of the tiger by working to stop the commercial demand for tigers, protecting valuable tiger habitat and encouraging communities who live in tiger habitat to share the same vision to protect them. Donations go towards various projects to protect tigers including the critically endangered Malayan tiger.

Tigers4Ever's mission is to protect tigers from extinction. Their focus is solely on ensuring a future for the Bengal tiger in India, the home of 70% of the world's wild tiger population.

 

Save Tigers Now is a global campaign by World Wildlife Fund and Leonardo DiCaprio to build political, financial and public support to double the number of wild tigers by 2022, the next year of the tiger.

Panthera is dedicated to protecting all species of big cats. With their Tigers Forever program they aim to increase the tiger population of selected key sites across Asia by at least 50% over a 10-year period. Donations here will less directly benefit tigers, as donations go towards a wide range of brilliant projects which improve conditions for all wild big cats around the world. An ideal organisation to donate towards if you love all big cats but can't decide which you want to support!

If you know of any more ways in which we can create a better future for tigers then please get in contact with your suggestions!