With as few as 3,900 left in the wild, tigers are endangered. On Global Tiger Day, which falls on 29th July each year, WWF worked with governments, businesses, conservation partners and local communities to help raise awareness and support for doubling wild tigers.
We asked everyone to #connect2tigers, sharing true stories of real tigers in the wild – and asking supporters to share these stories too. Learn about the last tiger WWF spotted in Cambodia, a tiger that was never named in Malaysia, and two young cubs that have just regained their freedom in the wilderness of the Russian Far East.
From public rallies and street plays to drawing competitions and documentary screenings, among the tiger-range countries, celebrations sprang up in various forms.
In the lead up to Global Tiger Day, Indonesia released a never-before-seen camera trap video of a tigress and her cubs thriving deep in the forests of Sumatra. The footage is a hopeful signal for tiger recovery in Sumatra, as it shows wild tigers surviving, breeding, and having tiger cubs.
However, wild tigers in Sumatra continue to live under increasing threat from poachers and habitat destruction.
To help raise awareness of the tiger’s plight, cities and provinces in in Sumatra came alive with celebrations on Global Tiger Day. Together with HarimauKita, the Indonesian government, and local communities, WWF organised traditional performances and music festivals that played homage to the wild tigers, hoping to wake up the wider community to the ominous threats that still hang over them, and the role they can play in protecting wild tigers and their forests.
Elsewhere on the island, marathoners declared they are running for the tigers by joining the #Run4Tiger campaign, while a group of volunteers climbed to the top of Rimbang Baling Hill – a key tiger habitat – with a banner message reminding us to protect these striped cats.
“Today, we can remove one but one month later, these snares are back at the same place,”
said the Director-General of Wildlife and National Parks Department Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim at a WWF event in Malaysia, with the support of Maybank.
On the Brink of Extinction, a documentary depicting the seriousness of illegal wildlife trade and impact it has made on Malaysia’s national animal, the Tiger, was screened.
WWF-Malaysia announced Project Stampede, a joint effort engaging indigenous groups, known as orang asli in Malaysia, to patrol the Belum-Temenggor Forest Complex in Perak and help remove snares and combat the urgent danger they pose to wild tigers, while working alongside the government for long-term solutions.
Speaking at a press conference after the screening, WWF-Malaysia’s Tiger Landscape Lead Dr Mark Rayan Darmaraj reiterated the organisation’s call to step up enforcement efforts in tiger habitats:
“We need more boots on the ground if we want to halt the poaching crisis. Project Stampede, which is WWF-Malaysia’s initiative to flood the forests of Royal Belum State Park with more patrol units, is being established for this very reason. Our recent findings indicate at least a 50 per cent decline of tigers within the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex over the past eight years. We are now in a crisis! We cannot afford to wait any longer,” said Dr Mark Rayan Darmaraj, WWF tiger lead researcher in Malaysia.
More than half of the world’s wild tigers live in India. As a national animal for India, the tiger is both loved and revered for its power, strength, and beauty. Ranging from rallies, drawing competitions, street plays, and documentary screenings, WWF teams in the cities and in the field mobilized the public to get them to be a part of the effort in protecting wild tigers in India.
In Delhi, WWF-India in partnership with National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), National Ministry of Natural History (NMNH), Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and various other organisations came together with school and college students across Delhi NCR to build an essence of conservation of tigers in India among them.
In the Sundarbans, the only place in the world where tigers live in a mangrove habitat, career guidance was given to the students in Kolkata on environment conservation.
Across the Terai-Arc Landscape, the field team outlined the Do’s and Don’ts when villagers encounter a wild tiger, as part of wider efforts in to engage local communities in mitigating and managing human tiger conflict.
In the Western India Tiger Landscape, a session was conducted by our field team to bring awareness of the major threats affecting tigers to the school children from villagers living in wildlife corridors.
In Western Ghats Nilgiri Landscape, local communities, schools, college and state forest department were brought together in a rally for tigers through a cycle event.
In the Satpuda Maikal Landscape, we partnered with the Chhattisgarh Forest Department to organize a similar awareness rally while in the Brahmaputra Landscape, we collaborated with State Forest Department to hold a workshop with school children on understanding tigers as a flagship species.
At the same time, Ranger Ranger, an ongoing digital story-telling project that shares the lives and work of those who protect tigers had its own exhibition at the Jor Bagh metro station in New Delhi. Developed by Delhi-based journalist Sonali Prasad, this installation has been put together in association with WWF, and was on display till August 10.
An online competition calls for the public to submit their best creative tiger artwork, be it photography, drawing or graphic art.
The top 10 submissions were displayed at a Global Tiger Day exhibition in Cambodia’s biggest mall, Aeon Mall. Organised as part of WWF’s partnership with Tiger Beer, the event included stage performance by local celebrities as well as a Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality experiences that families could have with virtual “wild tigers”.
A special tiger-striped scarf collection is now available in Thailand, as part of WWF x Tiger Beer collaboration in Thailand. Inspired by the real tigers in the wild that are painstakingly tracked and monitored by WWF’s field staff and partners, each scarf honours the uniqueness and wilderness represented by Thailand’s wild tigers. Thailand boasts of having the best chance of tiger recovery in Southeast Asia so far, and funds raised for this project will go to support the ongoing efforts to help wild tiger populations recover in the country.
Meanwhile, WWF and tech giant Intel, announced plans to use AI technology to monitor and help protect wild tigers in China.
Analyzing camera trap images is an extremely time consuming process as the devices are easily triggered by any movement, from a moving branch to an actual animal. With Intel’s technology, we hope to successfully identify tigers before their image is captured to minimize the manpower required in sifting through irrelevant images.
Saikhan and Lazovka were both rescued as cubs around the same time. It was decided that they should be put in the same enclosure and have a chance to grow up like wild tigers as much as possible. It was a long rehabilitation process – one that takes more than a year. But with only around 3,900 of them left in the wild, every tiger counts. We’re happy to say the operation has been a success and they are finally freed into the wilderness as young adults with due to strong support from various stakeholders including the government, the Amur Tiger Centre, and other local partners, as well as the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.
In Bhutan, celebrations started as early as 26 July with various awareness programs running in conjunction with government officials. It culminated on Global Tiger Day itself in a get-together session participated by more than 500 people.
World Wisdom Quiz 2018 kicked off in Nepal. At least 150 schools participated this year as WWF engaged the youths in conservation through fun and educational quizzes.
WWF also invited the Nepalese public to #Connect2Tigers digitally, by sharing their thoughts on how tigers inspire them – be inspired here.
How incredible would it be to see a tiger in the wild? These were exactly Saw Kae’s thoughts, moments before he felt something large approaching.
Read on to discover a personal memoir on wild tigers, based on an account by a Burmese villager on his fateful encounter with the King of the Jungle.