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Close up of a tiger  © National Geographic Stock / Michael Nichols / WWF

WWF-UK survey reveals people are unaware of the perilously low number of wild tigers

A new survey commissioned by WWF-UK reveals 23% of those polled thought there were about 10 times (39,000) the number of tigers in the wild, rather than the sad reality of around 3,900. Despite being one of the most iconic animals in the world, it would seem many are still unware of the desperately low numbers.

As 2017 begins the world has just five years to reach an ambitious and visionary conservation goal agreed in 2010*; to double the number of wild tigers by 2022, the next Chinese year of the tiger.  Last year, conservationists celebrated global wild tiger numbers increasing for the first time in the history of conservation. 

The poll by Markettiers of more than 1000 British public also found that one third of those surveyed thought wild tigers lived in Kenya. Tigers have never lived in the wild in Africa, yet other countries on this continent incorrectly thought to home wild tigers include South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania, with 26%, 17% and 11% of people surveyed selecting them respectively.

There are 13 tiger range countries in total across Asia. India is home to the largest population of wild tigers, which 67% of those polled identified correctly.

Rebecca May, WWF-UK’s tiger specialist, comments:

“Tigers are endangered and need our support, which is why it’s worrying to discover that so many people are not aware of the fragile situation faced by tigers in the wild. The increase in wild tiger numbers reported earlier this year is encouraging, but the species’ future in its natural environment still hangs on a knife edge, and numbers remain perilously low. There now needs to be a monumental push forward to build on this progress. We need commitment and urgent action from all tiger range governments, as well as passion and unwavering support from the public, including from us in the UK.”

In a separate survey released in July 2016, WWF-UK also revealed that three quarters of Brits weren’t aware of tiger farm practices in Asia, which are fuelling the illegal tiger trade and jeopardising the recovery of wild tigers across the continent.  There are now more than 200 of these facilities across Asia – a large number of which are likely to be involved in the illegal trade of tigers like the notorious Tiger Temple;  Asia’s most renowned tiger farm. The high profile investigation of Thailand’s Tiger Temple shocked the nation last summer.

The implications of these captive facilities was further highlighted in a recent TRAFFIC and WWF report showing the growing proportion of tiger parts seized are suspected to be from tiger farms, up from just 2% in the 2000-2003 period to at least 30% in 2012-2015. 

--Ends-

Notes to editors

* In 2010, governments of the 13 tiger range countries, together with organisations including WWF, set an ambitious and visionary conservation goal, to double the number of wild tigers by 2022 – the next Chinese year of the tiger. This goal is called Tx2. There were estimated to be as few as 3,200 tigers in the wild in 2010.

WWF-UK’s #iProtectTigers campaign is contributing to the Tx2 goal to double the number of wild tigers by 2022. By donating £5 a month to become a ‘Tiger Protector,’ supporters can receive a personalised storybook along with updates throughout the year.

More information:

Q.1. Which of the following do you think best reflects how many tigers are there in wild?

Number of wild tigers

Result (%)

Around 390

14.9%

Around 3,900

53.6%

Around 39,000

22.9%

Around 390,000

3.7%

None of the above

5.0%

 

Q.2. Which countries are home to wild tigers?

Country

Result (%)

Is it home to wild tigers?

India

63.6%

Yes

Bangladesh

41.5%

Yes

Kenya

30.6%

No

South Africa

26.1%

No

Indonesia

19.8%

Yes

Nepal

17.7%

Yes

Zimbabwe

16.5%

No

Bhutan

13.6%

Yes

Malaysia

13.1%

Yes

Tanzania

11.1%

No

Russia

9.9%

Yes

North America

7.8%

No

Brazil

4.6%

No

Peru

3.4%

No

Philippines

3.1%

No

Singapore

2.9%

No

Ecuador

2.4%

No

Canada

1.8%

No

Mexico

1.2%

No

Greenland

1.0%

No

Ireland

0.8%

No

Turkey

0.4%

No

No countries are home to wild tigers

3.6%

 

Other

2.1%

 

 

Q.3. Which country has the largest population of wild tigers?

Country

Result (%)

India

66.7%

China

10.2%

Nepal

10.2%

Russia

2.6%

None of the above

10.4%

 

REPORT: Reduced to Skin and Bones Re-examined: published November 2016 (briefing document published September 2016)

TIGER FARM SURVEY: Three quarters of Brits aren’t aware of detrimental tiger farms in Asia: published July 2016

Photos for use may be found here: http://hive.panda.org/Share/a8ifu5tn7mad4u025wwyrq5wb8ptebuv