© Indraneel Dhani
Asia's Infrastructure Development Threatens World's Tigers

A projected 11,000 kilometers of roads and railways, along with new canals, oil and gas pipelines, and power lines form a worrying backdrop against the anniversary and midway point of our TX2 goal.

The planned infrastructure across Asia will cut through every existing tiger habitat, resulting in fragmented areas that are too small to sustain minimum tiger populations. Tigers will be unable to breed, hunt, find cover, and establish their own territories with this development.

The new analysis by WWF, “The Road Ahead: Protecting Tigers from Asia’s Infrastructure Development Boom”, highlights this unprecedented threat and warns that such unsustainable construction will break down the natural systems that tigers represent.

Asia’s rich natural heritage is a vital lifeline for millions of people across the continent. WWF is calling Asian governments to pursue a sustainable path which will protect tigers and their habitats while benefiting all those living in the region.

“The global collaboration to double wild tigers has transformed tiger conservation and given the species a real chance of survival, but the scale of Asia’s infrastructure plans could destroy all the recent gains as well as hopes for the future of wild tigers. Infrastructure is central to Asia’s development, but we need to ensure it is sustainable and does not come at the expense of tigers and tiger landscapes.” Mike Baltzer, leader of WWF’s Tiger’s Alive Initiative

At the time of the 2010 ‘Tiger Summit’ in St. Petersburg, Russia, there were as few as 3,200 tigers in the wild – down from 100,000 just a century before. Over the past six years, tigers have shown signs of recovery in a number of critical landscapes. There are now an estimated 3,890 tigers in the wild with numbers inching up in India, Russia, Nepal and Bhutan.

But the situation remains precarious. India has lost 76 tigers to poachers already this year, while China, Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia, with less than 500 tigers between them, could lose their tigers in the next decade, especially if poorly-designed infrastructure plans are given the green light.

Asia's Infrastructure Development Threatens World's Tigers
© Indraneel Dhani

“Countries must urgently integrate the conservation of tigers and tiger landscapes into their development planning. The good news is that solutions exist and it is not too late. But if countries do not act now, the damage will be irreparable.” Mike Baltzer

There must be a strong and proactive collaboration between infrastructure planners, implementers, and conservation stakeholders. Landscape connectivity is vital to safeguarding and restoring tiger populations.

As we cross the midway point of TX2, WWF seeks the same commitment from all 13 tiger range governments shown at the 2010 ‘Tiger Summit’, to strengthen and enforce environmental safeguards as they plan for future infrastructure developments.