There are fewer than 4,000 wild tigers in the world. The last sighting of a Javan tiger was in 1976, the Bali tiger disappeared even earlier; two subspecies, gone forever. Tigers have been wiped out in Cambodia, are ‘functionally extinct’ in Vietnam and Lao PDR, and are dangerously close to extinction in China. They have been decimated in Indonesia, with only the Sumatran population of fewer than 400 remaining. Sadly, Myanmar and Malaysia have this year reported significant population declines.
These catastrophic statistics are the result of habitat destruction, diminishing prey species, and poaching and trafficking of tiger parts and products. The latter feeds demand from countries such as China and Vietnam where rising disposable incomes fuel a thriving market for luxury goods, including for exotic animals such as tigers.
In contrast to wild tigers, the number of captive-bred tigers is reportedly growing. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) estimates that there are 7,000+ tigers in captive-breeding facilities across China, Lao PDR, South Africa, Thailand and Vietnam. The vast majority of these facilities do not contribute to the conservation of tigers in the wild. What they do contribute to is persistent trade in tiger parts and products. MORE