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Bhutan's first national tiger survey, conducted entirely by Bhutanese nationals, puts Bhutan on the list of tiger champions, along with Nepal, India, Russia and Bangladesh, as countries to have carried out national tiger surveys, a crucial step in the Tx2 goal to double wild tiger numbers by 2022.

Dechen Dorji, WWF Bhutan Country Representative said:

The roaring success of Bhutan's first ever nationwide survey gifts us a rare look into the lives of the magnificent tigers roaming across the entire country. This is an incredible achievement with great teamwork and leadership from the Royal Government of Bhutan."
 
Bhutan's results come days after Bangladesh released numbers from its first national tiger survey. Bangladesh's survey found 106 wild tigers, a lower figure than the previous estimate, but that figure was based on less reliable methodology that may have led to an overestimation. This is Bangladesh's first systematic tiger survey including the use of camera traps and highlights the essential need for all countries to systematically count their tigers. However, many Southeast Asian countries are still not taking this step.
 
Mike Baltzer, WWF Tigers Alive Initiative Leader said:

"There is a tiger crisis in Southeast Asia. Countries are not counting their tigers and are at risk of losing them if immediate action isn't taken. Political support is weaker and resources are fewer, while poaching and habitat loss are at critical levels. Until countries know the reality on the ground they can't take the appropriate action to protect their tigers."
 
This year, experts from Malaysia suggested that tiger numbers have fallen from their previous estimate of 500 in 2010 to as few as 250 individuals. There are thought to be no breeding populations of tigers in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, and tiger numbers are unknown for Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar.

"WWF is calling on all Southeast Asian tiger countries to count their tigers and on the global tiger conservation community to focus efforts in these critical Southeast Asian countries," continued Baltzer.
 
And there is some hope: Thailand's government is meeting to assess the status of the country's wild tigers, the Malaysian government recently announced its intention to conduct the first national tiger survey, and the Cambodian government is discussing the reintroduction of tigers, with WWF's support. 
 
Tigers are endangered. The last global estimate in 2010 put numbers at as few as 3200. Today wild tiger numbers are unknown, although all tiger countries have committed to issuing a new global tiger figure in 2016, the halfway point under Tx2.
 
Poaching is one of the greatest threat to wild tigers today. Along with ivory and rhino horn, tiger parts are in high demand in Asia. It is feared that countries not carrying out national tiger surveys could lose their tigers to poachers without realizing. This may already be the case for some countries.  
 
In January this year, India released its latest tiger census results showing an increase to 2,226 from 1,706 in 2010. In May, Russia's latest survey found as many as 540 tigers, while Nepal's last survey in 2013 found that tigers had increased from 155 in 2008 to 198. There are positive indications of tigers settling and breeding in northeastern China.

National tiger surveys are expensive, labour intensive and often take place in difficult terrain with challenging weather conditions. All these factors are barriers to governments completing the work. However, the returns outweigh the investment and NGOs are willing to work with governments to share technical expertise and explore potential funding sources.

ENDS
         
 
Notes to Editors

For further information on Bhutan and the crisis in Southeast Asia see: http://tigerday.panda.org/

Global Tiger Day: The 13 tiger range countries created Global Tiger Day at the Tiger Summit, in November 2010 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Celebrated annually on 29 July, it aims to raise awareness of and support for conservation of wild tigers.

The 13 tiger range countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, and Viet Nam.

Tx2 is the global goal, agreed by the 13 tiger range countries, to double the number of wild tigers by the next Year of the Tiger in 2022. TX2 was agreed in 2010 at the Tiger Summit in St Petersburg.  WWF was a driving force behind the Tiger Summit and remains a major force behind TX2.
Bhutan for Life: The strategy for tiger conservation in Bhutan includes creating a fund that will be used to maintain and manage the country's 5 million acre network of protected areas in perpetuity. A unique funding approach, adapted from Wall Street, is being used by the Government of Bhutan, WWF and others and will be the first such fund in Asia. For more information see: http://www.worldwildlife.org/projects/bhutan-committed-to-conservation

National Global Tiger Day events include:

  • WWF Cambodia: holding an online photo contest on the theme 'Tigers Around Us'. "Last tiger seen in Cambodia was in 2007" event to be in Aeon Mall, the biggest shopping mall in Cambodia.
  • WWF China: releasing a publication of recent tiger images and news of a new reproduction centre for ungulates in Wangqing Forest Bureau - a key habitat for tigers and leopards.
  • WWF India: Annual Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) awards being held - an annual joint event with PATA and Global Tiger Forum (GTF). Three individuals and two forest communities from across India will be honoured for their exemplary work in conservation. Plus multiple landscape school and community events. 
  • WWF Indonesia - WWF in collaboration with Tiger Conservation Forum will hold community events simultaneously in four Sumatran cities: Pekanbaru (Riau), Padang (West Sumatra), Medan (North Sumatra) and Palembang (South Sumatera).
  • WWF Malaysia: holding an online photo tiger brands competition.
  • WWF Nepal - Green Generation engagement involving STRIPES AND STROKES:  an inter-college art competition. TELL A TALE OF TIGERS: creative story challenge. THE BIG ROAR: an inter-college debate league on tiger and environmental issues. ROAR FOR TIGERS - creative slogan challenge (social media).
  • WWF Russia: welcome to the Tiger's Trail! A new tiger web resource available online will help everyone to get acquainted with Russia's tigers:  http://en.tigerstrail.ru/ 
  • WWF Thailand: Thais for Tigers event to be held in Central World Shopping Plaza, Bangkok, including a seminar bringing together speakers who work to protect tigers. In addition, WWF-Thailand and Thailand Post Co., Ltd. will unveil the first stamp collection in Thailand showcasing tigers and other wildlife found in Mae Wong-Khlong Lan National Park - "Mae Wong - Khlong Lan - The Forest of Hope". 

Contacts:
Alison Harley
WWF Tigers Alive Initiative
tel: +60 12 2807 402
e-mail:aharley@wwf.org.my

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Nicholas Smith
WWF-International
tel: +65 6730 8136
e-mail:nsmith@wwfint.org

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David Hirsch
WWF-International
tel: +41 22 364 9554
e-mail:dhirsch@wwfint.org

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