People, Environment

Wild Tiger’s Fragile State Underestimated

More than one in four people underestimate the dangers facing tiger populations.More than one in four people underestimate the dangers facing tiger populations.

More than a quarter of people hugely overestimate the number of tigers living in the wild, a survey has revealed.

While just over half (54%) of the 1,000 British people quizzed in poll for conservation charity WWF-UK correctly said there were around 3,900 tigers in the wild, more than a fifth (23%) thought there were 10 times as many.

And one in 25 people (4%) thought there were around 390,000 wild tigers, Press Association reported.

Conservationists have welcomed news that tiger populations increased last year for the first time since work to protect the big cats began, but warn numbers are still “perilously low”.

The world now has just five years to reach an ambitious “TX2” target agreed in 2010 by the 13 countries where the animals are found, to double wild numbers by 2022, the next Chinese Year of the Tiger, WWF-UK said.

With tigers needing public support, the wildlife organization said it was “worrying” that many people seemed unaware of how low numbers were.

The survey also found many people did not know where tigers naturally live, with 30% believing they lived wild in Kenya and more than a quarter (26%) thinking they were found in South Africa, despite tigers having never lived wild in Africa.

Only one in 10 knew that tigers are found wild in Russia, the poll, by Markettiers4dc, revealed.

But two-thirds of those quizzed (66%) correctly identified India as the country with the greatest number of tigers.

Rebecca May, WWF-UK’s tiger specialist, said: “Tigers are endangered and need our support, which is why it’s worrying to discover that so many people are not aware of the fragile situation faced by tigers in the wild.

“The increase in wild tiger numbers reported earlier this year is encouraging, but the species’ future in its natural environment still hangs on a knife edge and numbers remain perilously low.

“There now needs to be a monumental push forward to build on this progress.

“We need commitment and urgent action from all tiger range governments, as well as passion and unwavering support from the public, including from us in the UK.”

A previous survey by WWF-UK revealed that three-quarters of people did not know about tiger farms in Asia, which the conservation charity warns are fuelling the illegal trade in tiger parts and jeopardizing the recovery of wild tigers.

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