The following statement was released today by Dale Miquelle, WCS Tiger Program coordinator and director of WCS’s Russia Program, upon the commencement of the Lunar Year of the Tiger:

 “As the world’s eyes turn to the tiger, there’s reason to be hopeful that this magnificent predator is beating the odds against extinction. Since 2016, tiger numbers have been increasing – today there may be as many as 4,500 occurring across 10 countries, including Russia, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Bhutan.

 “This increase in tiger numbers offers us hope but the tiger conservation community is also humbled by the fact that these successes are hard fought and fragile.

 “Since the last Year of the Tiger in 2010, six conservation organizations involved in tiger conservation have come together to embrace a proven recipe for recovery of tigers across their historical range. WCS is proud to join Fauna & Flora International; IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature); Panthera; TRAFFIC and the World Wide Fund for Nature with this shared vision to ensure tigers thrive across their range. The vision statement, “Securing a viable future for the tiger,” is a groundbreaking collaboration from these six organizations outlining a path to ensure continued tiger conservation success.

 This collaboration marks a dramatic change from the past and greatly increases the chances of reaching four goals for tiger conservation over the coming 12 years (until the next Year of the Tiger), which are: 1) secure and increase numbers of tigers in all existing populations; 2) expand the range of tigers by managing environments so as to encourage expansion into new areas; 3) turn the tide by reintroducing tigers into countries and landscapes that have lost their tiger populations; and 4) restore ecological diversity by recovering and sustaining tiger populations in all major ecological settings of the tiger’s indigenous range.

“As outlined in our vision statement, to achieve these goals we have advocated for three commitments from the tiger range countries:

1. A zero-tolerance approach to trade in tigers, their parts and derivatives through the dismantling of poaching and trafficking networks and the elimination of demand.

2. A zero-conversion approach to tiger habitats, coupled with forest restoration, improved connectivity, and incorporating tiger habitat conservation into national development strategies and carbon reduction goals.

3. A coexistence approach to reduce human-wildlife conflict through increasing understanding of development and humanitarian issues, as well as conservation values and ambitions, resulting in increased equitable benefits for those living with wildlife.

“It has become clear, too, that the conservation of the tiger needs to be seen in a broader context. Tiger conservation can no longer be considered without understanding its connection to other challenges facing our world. We cannot save tigers without saving their natural habitats, and these same forests and natural landscapes are vital in addressing the world’s climate, biodiversity and zoonotic health crises. Conserving and protecting tigers and the ecosystems where they are found will also deliver on the Global Biodiversity Framework being negotiated by the Convention on Biological Diversity (including on species, area-based conservation, and ecosystem integrity). Thus, tigers can serve as an iconic symbol of survival of the natural world, and the very well-being of humanity. 

“At WCS, we remain hopeful that we will again celebrate good news about tigers when the world celebrates the next Lunar Year of the Tiger in 2034.”