NEW YORK, Sept. 14 (UPI) — The world’s remaining tigers, hit by hunting and habitat destruction, have taken refuge in just 6 percent of available territory in Asia, a U.S. study found.
The Wildlife Conservation Society and other groups report fewer than 3,500 tigers remain in the wild, of which only about 1,000 are breeding females, a society release said Tuesday.
The study has identified 42 “source sites” scattered across Asia that are the last hope for conservation and recovery of the world’s largest cat.
These source sites are defined as locations that contain breeding populations of tigers and have the potential to seed the recovery of tigers across wider landscapes.
Conservation efforts focused on these sites, including increased monitoring and enforcement, would enable tiger numbers to double in these last strongholds, researchers said.
“In the past, overly ambitious and complicated conservation efforts have failed to do the basics: prevent the hunting of tigers and their prey,” Joe Walston, director of the WCS Asia Program, said.
“With 70 percent of the world’s wild tigers in just 6 percent of their current range, efforts need to focus on securing these sites as the No. 1 priority for the species.”
Despite efforts by conservationists, tigers continue to be threatened by over-hunting of both tigers and their prey, and by loss and fragmentation of habitat, the study says.
Much of the decline is being driven by the demand for tiger body parts used in traditional medicines, scientists say.
“The tiger is facing its last stand as a species,” John Robinson, executive vice president of conservation and science for the WCS, said.
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