Tigers are among the most iconic creatures of the animal kingdom, but they are also among the most endangered species on the planet. The population was as high as 100,000 in 1900 but dwindled to about 3,200 by 2010. However, the good news is that tigers are making a slow but steady comeback. As of April 2016, their numbers have gone up to at least 3,890. The Global Tiger Forum, which comprises the nations that host tiger populations, sees this as a positive step towards its goal of doubling the 2010 tiger population by 2022.
The danger to the tiger population is largely due to poaching. Some cultures prize various parts of tigers for their supposed medicinal value, and others sell products made from tigers as souvenirs and keepsakes. Habitat loss through deforestation is another cause for concern. Tigers that roam close to inhabited areas are also sometimes killed by farmers attempting to protect their livestock.
The World Wildlife Fund points out that the proposed doubling of the tiger population — known as the Tiger Initiative, or Tx2 — requires a concerted effort to properly survey tiger populations. Governments must make diligent efforts to stop poaching, prevent habitat loss, and keep corridors that link tiger populations open. A study by researchers at the University of Minnesota using satellite imagery shows that there is sufficient wild habitat for the doubling of the tiger population if governments protect the forests that remain. People visiting countries with tiger populations, such as India, Nepal, Bhutan and Russia, should avoid buying products made of tiger parts, as a decrease in demand makes the illegal killing of tigers less lucrative.
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Despite the Tx2 initiative, poaching continues to be a problem, and law enforcement officials seized 1,590 tigers from poachers between 2000 and 2014. Additionally, thousands of tigers are kept as pets in the United States under cruel and dangerous conditions.
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