10 ways the world helped save tigers in 2019
Despite the constant flow of worrying news, behind the scenes there is good happening all over the world. Over the past few weeks the internet has come alive with stories of communities coming together, of small acts of kindness, of wildlife returning to quietened cities. There too has been positivity in the world of tiger conservation. 2019 saw a number of events occur that you may not have heard about. Today we’d like to share them with you.
1. FROM DEGRADED AND DERELICT… TO ABUNDANT AND WILD IN NEPAL
A rhino in Chitwan National Park. The camera traps reveal that tigers are dispersing both from Chitwan and even from Parsa National Park - where the tiger population has climbed from an estimated four in 2008, to 18 in 2018.
After years of planning and action, a once degraded patch of land in Nepal is now teeming with wildlife. The restored Shikaarbas Corridor now enables animals to disperse from two National Parks, and even to traverse international boundaries as they do so. This freedom to move is critical for tigers who need to roam long distances to find prey and mates. In 2019, camera traps revealed that tigers are among the animals using the corridor.
2. CUBS ON CAMERA!
In late 2019, camera trap images from Mae Wong/ Khlong Lan National Park, Thailand, delivered some wonderful news. Three tiger cubs from two different mothers were photographed roaming the forest. Two of the cubs, a male and a female, are the offspring of a tiger named ‘MKF5’ who WWF has been monitoring since 2014. This is her third litter!
3. TIGER ESTIMATES INCREASE IN INDIA
Every four years the All India Tiger Estimation (AITE) is conducted across the country to provide a new national tiger population. After a cumulative 593,882 days worked to get there, 2019 celebrated a promising new estimate of 2,967 individuals.
4. A NEW PROTECTED AREA FOR THE WORLD’S MOST ENDANGERED BIG CAT (AND TIGERS!)
In Southeast Russia, where vast forest sprawls over the border with Northeastern China, the Amur tiger shares its home with the magnificent Amur leopard. With only around 100 leopards remaining, this big cat is thought to be the most endangered in the world. 2019 saw the establishment of the Komissavorsky Wildlife Refuge – a new protected area in Russia’s Primorsky Region. The refuge borders two protected areas in China. Together the three form an important ecological corridor enabling tigers and Amur leopards to move between China and Russia to breed and find food.
5. TWO NEW SAFE HAVENS FOR TIGERS
An individual tigress, Rewa, symbolises the impact of conservation efforts in Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park. She was first spotted through camera trap photos in 2012, looking frail and thin. But in January 2019 Rewa was captured with four new female cubs!
In 2019, two sites in Bhutan (Jigme Singye Wangchuck and Royal Manas National Park) received CA|TS accreditation – securing the future for tiger recovery in the area. Achieving this level of conservation standard is a huge success for Bhutan. Congratulations, Bhutan!
The Conservation Assured Tiger Standards (CA|TS) is an accreditation scheme that encourages tiger conservation areas to meet a set of standards to ensure tiger recovery. CA|TS measures the effectiveness of all the elements deemed necessary by experts and protected area managers for successful tiger recovery, including habitat management, area design, community relations, prey density – among others.
6. A MYANMAR HIGHWAY DESIGNED WITH WILDLIFE IN MIND
Infrastructure such as roads, if badly planned, situated and designed can be devastating for wildlife. The proposed Dawei road in Myanmar is no exception. The 138km highway will slice through Dawna Tenasserim, one of the largest interconnected forests in Asia, and of course home to tigers. The good news is that in July 2019, after years of advocacy, recommendations provided by WWF have been incorporated into the design of the road including 12 wildlife crossing measures, and direct benefits to local communities for monitoring and maintenance of wildlife crossings, among others. More good news for tigers!
7. COMMUNITY PATROLS REMOVE DEADLY SNARES IN MALAYSIA
Malaysia’s tigers could be gone within three years as poaching syndicates move in and set snares that target tigers and other high-value species,. This is where WWF-Malaysia stepped in! They launched ‘Project Stampede’ to drastically increase the number of community patrol teams to remove snares. These teams consist of Orang Asli indigenous peoples who have been trained to patrol independently, using the SMART system. The result has been a decrease of 89% in snare encounters since before the project was launched!
8. INDIA: SNIFFER DOGS TO THE RESCUE!
One dog named Nirman, along with his two handlers Mr Raj Kishore Prajapati and Mr Ashok Kumar Gupta, have helped solve 35 wildlife cases including six tiger-related cases, leading to the arrest of several wildlife criminals and the recovery of poached tiger carcasses and seizure of tiger body parts. © TRAFFIC
You probably know dogs are used to sniff out drugs and bombs, but did you know that sniffer dogs are increasingly used to detect illegal wildlife trade? This year, TRAFFIC announced the Canines for Felines winners – a special contest for wildlife sniffer dogs trained under a TRAFFIC and WWF-India programme.
9. FRESH HOPE FOR MYANMAR’S TIGER POPULATION
Camera trap survey results in 2019 brought wonderful news: evidence of tiger breeding in not just one, but two major landscapes in Myanmar: Upper Chindwin and Dawna Tenasserim. With photographs in hand, there is now scientifically-backed impetus for conservationists to put measures in place to help these individuals along with the others undocumented, go on to thrive.
10. CHINA: TRANSPORT GIANTS SAY NO TO TRANSPORTING TIGERS
14 leading courier and logistics companies in China signed a Voluntary Code of Practice to Refuse Delivery of Illegal Wildlife Trade and Products. The companies, covering 90% of China’s courier and logistics business in 2018 included domestic giants EMS, SF-Express and YTO-Express, alongside well-known international companies DHL and FedEx. With China at the heart of illegal wildlife trade consumption, this code of practice is very positive news.
Find out more about the work being done to double global tiger numbers in our 2019 Annual Report, out now!