How tigers could TREBLE in 20 years: Predators in line for roaring comeback 'if enough is done to restore their habitat

They've long been a highly endangered species – but tigers could be about to make a roaring comeback. Scientists say their global population could almost treble in the next 20 years if habitats are restored.Over the past century, tiger numbers have been decimated by logging, agriculture and deforestation.

Today, only around 3,200 wild tigers still live in Asia – 97 per cent fewer than 100 years ago, according to conservation group the WWF. Over the past century, tiger numbers have been decimated by logging, agriculture and deforestation Four of the remaining sub-species of tigers are considered endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and two are listed as 'critically' threatened. 

However, a satellite image study by the University of Minnesota found that enough wild habitat remains to allow a doubling of tiger numbers by 2022.  

 

In the next two decades the global population 'could approach a trebling' if essential corridors are restored in the most deforested landscapes and other steps taken, said the researchers led by Dr Anup Joshi from the University of Minnesota, US.

Conservation 'corridors' are regions of preserved habitat that connect different areas, allowing animals to extend their territories and avoid interbreeding. However, a satellite image study by the University of Minnesota found that enough wild habitat remains to allow a doubling of tiger numbers by 2022

The US-led researchers analysed 14 years' worth of satellite images from 13 countries in which tigers live.  They expected habitat loss to be much higher than the 7.7 per cent actually observed. Writing in the journal Science Advances, Dr Joshi's team concluded: 'Our analysis indicates that enough wild habitat remains to allow a range-wide doubling of the wild tiger population ... The global population could approach a trebling in the next two decades.'

Two key measures needed to protect the animal were re-introduction in some regions and near real-time monitoring of tiger habitats, said the authors.

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