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01 March 2018

Tigers could disappear from a third of protected areas

Poaching is a major threat to the future of the endangered big cats – WWF is calling on governments to take urgent action to step-up funding and conservation efforts

One-third of tiger conservation areas surveyed are at severe risk of losing the highly endangered species, a new survey of some of the world’s most critical tiger sites conducted by WWF and partners has revealed. The report shows there is urgent need for better management of and more funds for the protected areas that are home to tigers, says WWF.

There are thought to have been around 100,000 tigers roaming the planet a century ago, but poaching, habitat loss, and conflict with humans has decimated the population by approximately 97 percent. Numbers of wild tigers are now thought to be fewer than 4,000.

The survey is the largest ever assessment of tiger conservation areas and includes places that are home to 70 percent of the world’s wild tigers. Only 13 per cent of those areas were found to meet global standards of tiger conservation*.

Over a third of sites surveyed had major management issues, leaving the tiger populations in these areas at risk of rapid decline or being lost entirely. The majority of these sites are in Southeast Asia, where they receive low levels of government funding – a situation which needs to change. Especially as tigers have already suffered dramatic declines in this region over the past decade.

Despite poaching being one of the greatest threats faced by big cats, 85 per cent of the areas surveyed do not have staff capacity to patrol sites effectively, and 61 per cent of the areas in Southeast Asia have very limited anti-poaching enforcement.

The survey was driven by 11 leading conservation organisations, including WWF, and tiger range governments that are part of the CA|TS Partnership (Conservation Assured Tiger Standards).

John Barker, Head of India and China Programmes at WWF said:

“It’s clear that many protected areas are not living up to their name. Far from being a safe haven for tigers, there is a real risk that they will be lost forever from a huge number of sites. With only around 3,890 tigers left in the wild, every population of this iconic species is critical.”

Low investment from governments in Southeast Asia was stated as one reason for the lack of management of these supposedly ‘protected areas’. While 86 per cent of areas in South Asia, Russia and China stated that finances are, or are on the way to being sustainable, only 35 per cent of areas in Southeast Asia are in a similar position.

John Barker added: “To save these majestic cats from disappearing, governments of tiger range countries must commit more money to the protection of the places where they live to ensure that people and tigers can thrive together. Good management in tiger conservation areas is the single most important action to halt and reverse decline of wild tigers.

Safe Havens for Wild Tigers: A Rapid Assessment of Management Effectiveness against Conservation Assured Tiger Standards is being released ahead of World Wildlife Day on 3rd March, which this year calls for the protection of big cats.

Michael Baltzer, Chair of the Executive Committee of CA|TS said:

“Unless governments commit to sustained investments in the protection of these sites, tiger populations may 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.”

WWF has been working to help to double the number of wild tigers by 2022. This includes working with governments, reducing the tiger trade, building and securing landscapes and reintroducing wild tigers to Cambodia’s Eastern Plains and Kazakhstan’s IliBalkhash.


For details of what WWF is doing to help tigers see

*According to Conservation Assured Tiger Standards, see below for further information.

About the Report

Jointly released by the CA|TS Partnership, Safe Havens for Wild Tigers: A Rapid Assessment of Management Effectiveness against Conservation Assured Tiger Standards, is the first overview of the management effectiveness of tiger conservation areas across Asia. Based on criteria set by CA|TS this is the largest survey of site-based tiger management to date, covering over 200,000 km2 in 112 tiger conservation areas that are estimated to hold 70% of the world’s wild tigers. Data from this survey forms a baseline that aims to help governments and site managers understand how they are faring against CA|TS an accreditation system designed to measure and improve the management of tiger conservation areas.

About CA|TS and the CA|TS Partnership

CA|TS is an accreditation system designed to measure and improve the management of tiger conservation areas.CA|TS was created to support the TX2 goal to double the number of tigers in the wild, adopted at the St Petersburg ‘Tiger Summit’ in 2010. It was established with the aim of ensuring that where tigers live in the wild, they are receiving effective protection and management. It is driven by the CA|TS Partnership, which comprises of tiger range governments, intergovernmental agencies, conservation organisations and other institutions, including: Equilibrium Research, Freeland Foundation, Global Wildlife Conservation, Global Tiger Forum, IUCN, Panthera, Smithsonian Institution, United Nations Development Program (UNDP), World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), WildTeam, and WWF. The secretariat for CA|TS is hosted by WWF. For more information on CA|TS please visit: