December 4th is World Wildlife Conservation Day. It’s a day to bring awareness to the issues surrounding decreasing and disappearing biodiversity across the planet. Human activities, such as hunting, poaching, habitat destruction, and exotic animal trade, are bringing animals across the world to the point of extinction. However, there are conservation success stories happening every day.
In July 2022, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) posted that Nepal had doubled, and nearly tripled, their wild tiger population. A 2022 survey identified 355 individuals, a 190% increase from the 121 individuals in 2009. One way this was achieved was by working with local communities. Government compensation was provided for livestock lost to tigers. Resources were also provided to townspeople, so that they didn’t have to rely on the national parks where tigers were living. Income from tiger tourism allowed for the development of communities. Nepal continues to see tiger populations not only increasing, but expanding range, data that will help with future conservation efforts.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) works with the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary (HHK) in western Thailand. Between 2006 and 2015, they saw a 50% increase in tiger population within the sanctuary, with tigers leaving the sanctuary to repopulate neighboring protected areas. Government assistance increased 75%, leading to better management, salaries, and infrastructure. HHK and the surrounding Western Forest Complex, covering 17 protected areas that create a contiguous tiger habitat, has the potential to house up to 2,000 tigers, a future goal for WCS.
In July 2022, IUCN Red List announced a 40% increase in wild tiger populations across Asia. Population estimate is now 3,726 and 5,578 worldwide. While tigers remain Endangered, improvements are being made.
Lions suffered a huge blow in numbers, losing about 43% of their population in 21 years.
The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) has been working to protect and increase lion populations. One of the biggest threats to lions is humans. Lions can kill livestock, and people will kill in retaliation. AWF has worked with multiple African communities to decrease retaliatory killings. They help build livestock enclosures that prevent predation and provide community benefits, education, and awareness to mitigate human-lion conflict. AWF also collects and uses scientific data to understand lion behaviors, populations, communities, and more. By tracking and tagging these cats, AWF gains deeper insights to help protect them.
African Parks also works to increase lion populations within their parks. There has been a decrease in poaching efforts by fencing their parks, removing snares, hiring and training a larger force of rangers, and using technology. They also work with communities by providing jobs, education, and money through tourism. They have been able to reintroduce lions into many of their parks, and have seen increasing populations within these protected areas.
TCWR’s vision is to live in a world where sanctuaries like ours are no longer needed, for these animals to have homes in the wild. Through the efforts of conservation groups in Africa and Asia, we can see a future where these animals are preserved and protected, and living truly wild lives.