Last of tigers in six percent of habitat

Last of tigers in six percent of habitat

A paper prepared by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) identifies 42 "source sites" scattered across Asia that are now the last hope and greatest priority for the conservation and recovery of the world's largest cat.

According to the paper, fewer than 3,500 tigers remain in the wild, of which around 1,000 are breeding females.

India was identified as the most important country for the species with 18 source sites. Sumatra in Indonesia has eight source sites, and the Russian Far East contains six.

WCS director Joe Walston and his co-authors identified 42 tiger sites that have the potential to seed the recovery of tigers across wider landscapes.

The securing of the tiger's remaining source sites is the most effective and efficient way of not only preventing extinction but seeding a recovery of the wild tiger, according to a Wildlife Conservation statement.

The researchers asserted that effective conservation efforts focused on these sites "are both possible and economically feasible, requiring an additional $35 million a year for increased monitoring and enforcement to enable tiger numbers to double in these last strongholds".

The study, published online by PLoS Biology, is authored by researchers Joe Walston, John Robinson, Elizabeth Bennett and John Goodrich among others.

"While the scale of the challenge is enormous, the complexity of effective implementation is not," said Walston.

"In the past, overly ambitious and complicated conservation efforts have failed to do the basics: prevent the hunting of tigers and their prey.

"With 70 percent of the world's wild tigers in just six percent of their current range, efforts need to focus on securing these sites as the number one priority for the species," he said.

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