"Number of Tigers in the Wild Is Rising, Wildlife Groups Say", The New York Times

A Royal Bengal Tiger at Kaziranga National Park in India in 2014. Credit Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A Royal Bengal Tiger at Kaziranga National Park in India in 2014. Credit Agence France-Presse — Getty Images / Online Story - The New York Times Website >>

The estimated number of tigers living in the wild rose this year for the first time in more than a century, conservation organizations said. New technology, including hidden cameras, are helping to track and count the animals, which may account for some of the increase.

There are now an estimated 3,890 wild tigers, mostly in Asia, up from a worldwide tiger population of 3,200 estimated in 2010, the World Wildlife Fund and Global Tiger Forum announced on Monday. Wild tigers are considered endangered and had seen shrinking numbers because of hunting, poaching and loss of habitat, such as deforestation, particularly in Sumatra, for palm oil, and paper and pulp industries, the groups said. The official count had declined every year since 1900, when tigers numbered an estimated 100,000.

“For the first time after decades of constant decline, tiger numbers are on the rise,” said Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International, in a statement. “This offers us great hope and shows that we can save species and their habitats when governments, local communities and conservationists work together.”

The report was based on wild tiger data from 13 countries. It was released ahead of a major tiger conservation meeting scheduled to begin Tuesday in New Delhi, with remarks by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India. The meeting will be the first since governments agreed at a summit in Russia in 2010 to double the wild tiger population by 2022.

In the 2016 report, the countries that showed increases in their wild tiger count included India (2,226); Russia (433); Nepal (198); and Bhutan (103). The numbers are estimates.

The rise is likely because some countries are adding more territory to their national surveys, and conservation efforts are likely to be paying off.

Advances in technology since 2010 have also helped national surveys in some countries show an upward trend, said Ginette Hemley, the WWF senior vice president of wildlife conservation.

Tiger excrement is analyzed for DNA, and cameras that are triggered by motion and planted in forests help capture images of tigers that a human tracker might not have been able to see.

Their striping patterns are as unique as human fingerprints, and can therefore be used to more accurately count individual animals.

“Tigers are very secretive and nocturnal animals and they are inherently hard to count,” Ms. Hemley said in a telephone interview. “The tools we are using now are more precise than they were six years ago.”

“The trend is going in a good direction over all,” she said.

Some of the figures that helped compose the 2016 number represent the lowest number in an estimated range, including Indonesia, with an estimated 371 tigers; Malaysia (250); Thailand (189); and Bangladesh (106). China, Vietnam and Laos showed single digit numbers.

The figures include data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, government estimates and observations by conservation groups.

Myanmar did not update its estimate of tigers, which numbered 85 in 2010, so that number was not used in the 2016 report. Cambodia estimated it had no wild tigers; there has been no evidence of tigers recorded there since 2007.

Ms. Hemley said Cambodia recently announced a new move to reintroduce tigers in the eastern part of the country and is negotiating to bring Bengal tigers from India, Nepal and Thailand.

The conservation groups have a network that monitors the illegal wildlife trade. Between January 2000 and April 2014, the network said law enforcement officials seized 1,590 tigers that were part of the illegal trade by poachers. Tiger parts are used in traditional medicines and health treatments, particularly in China.

A version of this article appears in print on April 12, 2016, on page A10 of the New York edition with the headline: Number of Tigers in Wild Rises for First Time in a Century, Conservationists Say. Contact Christine Hauser >> Online Version of Story on The New York Times Website >>


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