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.


number of wild tigers thought to be left in 2010


number of wild tigers thought to be left today

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.

The global decline has been halted but there is still no safe place for tigers. South East Asia, in particular, is at imminent risk of losing its tigers if these governments do not take action immediately.

Michael Baltzer, leader of WWF's Tx2 tiger initiative

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.