Global decline of wild tigers halted as numbers rise for first time

The number of wild tigers has risen for the first time in the history of tiger conservation according to the WWF Credit: PA

The number of tigers in the wild has increased for the first time in the history of tiger conservation, according to the The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

The boost is down to increases in tiger populations in India, Russia, Nepal and Bhutan - along with better surveys and enhanced protection of the species, WWF said.

The new global estimate is compiled from International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) data and the latest national tiger surveys by some countries.

The rise is announced ahead of a key meeting in India on tiger conservation at the half way point of a plan to double the numbers of the species by 2022.

Imminent risk

WWF said more still needed to be done to protect the endangered species.

Michael Baltzer, leader of WWF's Tx2 tiger initiative, called for a strong action plan for the next six years by countries with tigers.

WWF wants to see those countries which have not met their commitment to update their population figures by 2016 based on national surveys to do so.

Countries need to know their tiger populations and the threats they face, such as poaching for skins and body parts and loss of their habitat, in order to protect them, the charity argues.

Ahead of the summit, other environmental groups have called on countries to commit to ending "tiger farming" for their skins and parts for medicine, which they say stimulates demand for such products and puts more poaching pressure on wild tigers.