The survey of more than 100 tiger conservation areas, where an estimated 70% of the world’s wild tigers live, found that only 13% of them are able to meet global standards—according to a joint statement from the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) and Conservation Assured Tiger Standards (CATS), an accreditation system designed to measure and improve the management of tiger conservation areas.
At least one-third of the areas are severely at risk of losing their tigers. Alarmingly, most of these sites are in Southeast Asia, where tigers have suffered the most dramatic decline in the past decade.
Reassuringly, two-thirds of the areas surveyed reported fair to strong management. Yet, basic needs, such as enforcement against poaching, engaging local communities and managing conflict between people and wildlife, remain weak for all areas surveyed.
“Ineffective management of tiger conservation areas leads to tiger extinction. To halt and reverse the decline of wild tigers, effective management is thus the single most important action,” said SP Yadav, assistant secretary-general of the Global Tiger Forum. “To achieve this, long-term investment in tiger conservation areas was absolutely essential, and this was a responsibility that must be led by governments in countries where tigers live,” he added.
Despite poaching being one of the greatest threats faced by big cats, 85% of the areas surveyed do not have staff capacity to patrol sites effectively, and 61% of the areas in Southeast Asia have very limited anti-poaching enforcement.
“Unless governments commit to sustained investments in the protection of these sites, tiger populations may continue to face the catastrophic decline that they have suffered over the last few decades. This funding is needed urgently, particularly for many sites in Southeast Asia to support recovery of its tiger population,” said Michael Baltzer, the leader of WWF Tigers Alive.