Officials at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report that the number of endangered wild tigers in Bhutan is more than a third larger compared to initial estimates. The country's first national tiger survey has found that what was initially thought to be only 75 tigers is in fact 103 animals. Dechen Dorji, the WWF's country representative in Bhutan called the latest development as "roaring success."
The World Wildlife Fund said that such national tiger surveys are a vital step in reaching its Tx2 goal, which is to double the number of wild tigers. Surveys on the population of local wild tigers have also been conducted in other countries, including Russia, Nepal, Bangladesh and India. The positive development in Bhutan's tiger population comes at a time when other populations of tigers in South East Asian countries face a growing crisis.
Mike Baltzer, leader of the WWF's Tigers Alive Initiative, said that countries do not practice the counting of wild tigers in their region and are now at risk of losing the animals unless immediate action is taken. There are no exact figures of tiger populations in other Asian countries, such as Burma, Indonesia and Thailand, while it is generally believed that there are no populations breeding in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Tigers and other large cats in different parts of the world face the immediate threat of extinction. Recent reports suggest that there are now only around 30,000 lions and 3,000 tigers living in the wild. These numbers are rapidly declining because of the continued loss of animal habitats and contacts with human populations that continue to expand their territory.
Concerns about the current situation of large cats have received much attention, especially after the killing of Cecil, a much beloved lion in Zimbabwe. The incident has served to highlight the threat of commercial game hunting on wild animals such as tigers and lions. According to accounts from Zimbabwean officials and members of animal conservation groups, Cecil was lured away from the protected game reserve it was being kept and was killed by an American dentist for sport. The foreigner paid locals $55,000 for the hunting experience.
National tiger surveys in India and Nepal have also revealed a considerable increase in local tiger populations, while there are indications that the tigers in China's north-eastern region have begun breeding and settling in the area.
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