At present, about 3,200 tigers live in the wild, down from 100,000 a century ago, and those that remain face a losing battle with poachers who supply traders in India and China with tiger parts for traditional medicines and purported aphrodisiacs.
The study says that Asia's tiger reserves can support more than 10,000 wild tigers – three times the current number – if they are managed as large-scale areas that allow movement between breeding sites.
‘In the midst of a crisis, it's tempting to circle the wagons and only protect a limited number of core protected areas,’ Eric Dinerston, chief scientist at WWF and one of the study's authors, said in a statement.
‘We absolutely need to stop the bleeding, the poaching of tigers and their prey in core breeding areas, but we need to go much further and secure larger tiger landscapes before it is too late,’ Dinerston added.
The study says that about 20 tiger conservation landscapes with the highest probability of survival can support more than 10,500 tigers, including about 3,400 breeding females.
Lions’ share going to tigersThe union conservation funding for lion conservation in India is now being transferred to tiger conservation programmes across the country.
The Asiatic Lion subspecies, also called Panther Leo Persica, were once found in Central Asia, Middle East, and even Eastern Europe, but today their numbers have been restricted to just about 411 within a restricted area of the Gir Forest National Park.
The Gujarat state government made enough efforts to sustain the numbers of lions. Considerable promotions also brought a nearly 55 per cent jump in the number of tourists to the park.
However, global pressure seems to have prompted the central government to be more partial towards tiger conservation over lion conservation.
‘We are unable to understand why the central government is being so tightfisted with lions when the tigers are being allocated huge amounts regularly. Though the state government has allocated funds for now under the Lion Conservation Society of India, several mega projects are on hold,’ a senior Gir forest official told the media on condition of anonymity.