Historically Tigers ranged from Turkey in the West to the Pacific Coast of Russia in the East, and as far South as Southeast Asia. It is estimated that around the start of the 20th century 100,000 tigers populated this vast area.
However during the last 100 years, tigers have lost about 93% of their historic range due to habitat destruction. In 2010 due to hunting and habitat destruction the numbers of tigers remaining in the wild dropped down as low as 3200.
Now after a century of rapid and constant decline, the number of wild tigers is finally on the rise again. According to the most recent data, around 3,890 tigers now exist in the wild, an increase of 690 compared to 2010 numbers.
Although there have been some gains in certain countries, the outlook isn’t as clear in Southeast Asia, where poaching and rampant deforestation continue to negatively impact tiger numbers.
Every day tigers face the hazards of poaching and habitat loss. Tiger parts, from whisker to tail, are traded in illegal wildlife markets, feeding a multi-billion dollar criminal network.
Also according to a report released by the WWF in late 2016 tigers are now facing a new threat: linear infrastructure fragmenting wildlife habitat. As a result tigers are unable to breed, hunt, find cover and establish their own territories due to the creation of small fragmented area’s by building roads, pipelines, power lines, canals etc.
The importance of tiger conservation is not just that the tiger is an iconic species that stands as a symbol of all that is beautiful, powerful and wild about nature. The tiger most importantly is at the top of a large food chain. And ultimately maintains a fragile balance between prey herbivores and the vegetation they feed upon, thereby playing a pivotal role in the health and diversity of an important ecosystem.