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WWF congratulates Bhutan for increase in wild tiger population

  • Bhutan’s tiger population has increased to 131 individuals, up 27 per cent since the first systematic survey in 2015 according to the National Tiger Survey Report 2021–2022 launched today.
  • This conservation success is a result of increased law enforcement, community-based tiger conservation programs, and habitat improvement.
  • Bhutan will host a Conference on Sustainable Finance for Tiger Landscapes in 2024 in collaboration with a coalition of major tiger conservation NGOs and IGOs. 

Thimphu, Bhutan -  WWF congratulates the Kingdom of Bhutan for successfully increasing its national tiger population to an estimate of 131 individuals - up from 103 tigers in the first systematic national tiger survey in 2015. The results were announced today, on Global Tiger Day, by the Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade Dr. Tandi Dorji, following the culmination of the National Tiger Survey 2021-22, which the Department of Forests and Park Services led with support from Bhutan for Life, Bhutan Foundation, Bhutan Trust for Environmental Conservation, UNEP, UNDP, and WWF. 

As well as determining the tiger population, the survey identifies major threats to the big cats in Bhutan - poaching, habitat loss, and human-wildlife conflict - and prioritises actions to mitigate these. The report serves as a call to action for continued efforts to protect tigers and their habitats for future generations.

The extensive survey covered 85 per cent of the country  (32,800 km2) and tigers were photographed at over 15 percent of the 1,201 camera trap locations. Bhutan has the world record for tiger sightings at the highest elevations, over 4,400m, and this survey confirms that tigers are breeding at a variety of altitudes supporting the notion that Bhutan is a source site for tigers in the region. 

Major interventions in the last ten years to help the wild tiger population include increased law enforcement, community-based tiger conservation programs, habitat improvement and human wildlife conflict management interventions.

The National Tiger Survey report, and WWF, recognise that if tigers in Bhutan are to continue to thrive, human-tiger conflict must continue to be addressed. Increased conflict results in decreased tolerance for tigers and poses a significant threat to both local people and tigers themselves. WWF is working with the Royal Government of Bhutan and partners including local communities on a holistic approach to human wildlife conflict. 

As a champion for tiger conservation, The Royal Government of Bhutan, with support from Her Majesty Queen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck, will host a Conference on Sustainable Financing for Tiger Landscapes in 2024. The Conference was announced at the event in Bhutan today and is being supported by the Tiger Conservation Coalition which includes EIA, FFI, IUCN, Panthera, TRAFFIC, UNDP, WCS, and WWF.

Chimi Rinzin, Country Director, WWF-Bhutan, said: “This is a significant achievement and an indication of a very healthy ecosystem. It also underlines Bhutan’s commitment to biodiversity conservation. WWF commits to continue working with the Government and partners towards holistic conservation efforts benefiting both people and wildlife.”

Stuart Chapman, Tigers Alive Initiative Leader, WWF, said: “This is an extraordinary conservation achievement for Bhutan which now joins a small number of countries that have increased their tiger population over the last decade. As tiger numbers increase, challenges can intensify, yet Bhutan is perfectly positioned to be a global champion for approaches that support coexistence between tigers and people.”