Tigers have made a surprising comeback from near-extinction.
Picture courtesy of Vita Brevis Travel
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) reveals wild populations are increasing in five countries, as the charity marks the ten year anniversary of TX2, an ambitious drive to double wild tigers numbers by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger.
Numbers are on the up in Bhutan, China, India, Nepal and Russia; five of the 13 target ranges. The initiative was launched in 2010 when there were estimated to be as few as 3,200 wild tigers remaining. In some of these regions, the numbers have since doubled.
Becci May, at WWF UK, says: “Ten years ago, tigers were in such a perilous state, that there was a very real risk of them becoming extinct in the wild. From that population low in 2010, they are finally making a remarkable comeback in much of South Asia, Russia and China, thanks to co-ordinated and concerted conservation efforts in these countries.”
In light of this good news, and for those keen for a tiger adventure (when we can travel again), here are the best places to see them in wild, starting with the location used to shoot David Attenborough’s famed Dynasties series: Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh is home to around 80 tigers. Guides working in the protected area know them well and when the female known as Raj Behra fell pregnant, director Theo Webb was given an opportunity to tell the story of an endangered species raising her cubs in a changing world.
“She’s under pressure from all sides,” he told Telegraph Travel. “Bandhavgarh is a really successful park, but unfortunately they’ve run out of space. There’s nowhere for the tigers to go because they’re surrounded by humanity.”
In the 45-degree heat of the day, Webb admitted that tigers mostly retreat to the shade and sleep. But he warned: “They can do anything at any time.”
India’s story of tiger recovery is one of astonishing hope: from 2006 to 2018, the estimate for tigers in the wild more than doubled with the latest estimate from the Wildlife Institute of India of between 2,600 and 3,350 individuals, which is approximately three-quarters of the world’s tiger population.
Tourism, it is argued, can help protect numbers. It generates revenue for conservation efforts, as well as the local population - so they see tigers as something worth protecting.
“Responsible, well managed nature and safari tourism... is the very best way to save India’s forests, its iconic tigers and its extraordinary biodiversity,” says the Tour Operators for Tigers association.