In 2010, the last Chinese year of the tiger, things were looking bleak. Over the previous century, tiger numbers had plummeted by over 95%, to their lowest level ever. As few as 3,200 were left in the wild as a result of rampant poaching and habitat loss.
So we helped to bring together all 13 countries where wild tigers are found, and a new ambitious goal was agreed: to double the number of wild tigers by 2022, the next Chinese year of the tiger.
We call the goal TX2. It’s the first time governments and others have worked together collaboratively and proactively towards a shared goal to ensure a viable future for tigers. That means working across entire landscapes – strengthening protection in areas where tigers are now, and where they could be in future, and maintaining and improving the links between them.
And, thanks to the concerted efforts of governments and other partners, we’re already seeing results. Midway through 2016, wild tiger numbers had increased for the first time in conservation history to an estimate of around 3,900, and populations are rising in many of our priority tiger landscapes.
In India, home to more than half the planet’s wild tigers, a tiger survey in 2014 estimated there to be around 2,220 wild tigers compared to an estimate of around 1,700 in 2010. In Russia, which has the second largest wild tiger population, wild tiger numbers increased between the years 2005 and 2015. Nepal and Bhutan have also recently reported increases in their tiger populations, and tigers are returning to north-east China.
Building on our success to date, we intend to work with others to help achieve one of the greatest conservation victories in history – bringing one of the most majestic predators on Earth back from the brink of extinction. It’s the most ambitious recovery effort for a single species ever. There’s still a huge amount of work to do – but we can do it.