The world's population of wild tigers roaming forests from Russia to India has risen for the first time in over 100 years! According to the latest census by wildlife conservation groups, 3,890 of the big cats were counted in the wild, which is a step up from the record-low worldwide tally of 3,200 from 2010.
Before you break out the champagne to celebrate, it's crucial to note that there's a small possibility the numbers haven't actually risen. Experts think the increase may be attributed to the fact that more areas are now being surveyed with better survey methods.
Still, this is the first time a new census of wild tiger populations has yielded a higher number than the previous one. It's something that hasn't happened since the 1900s when there were more than 100,000 of the big cats in the wild.
It's also good news for international conservation groups that are working with 13 countries where the cat species is endemic to keep those numbers going up. Since the dismal count from 2010, conservation groups and the 13 countries have pledged to at the very least double the population of wild tigers by 2022.
Russia, India (which has more than half of the total population), Nepal, and Bhutan have successfully managed to count the tigers within their borders in the latest census, but many Southeast Asian countries faced difficulties.
Cambodia, for example, is looking to reintroduce tigers into its forests after the species was officially declared extinct within the nation's borders. Indonesia is also struggling to curb the rapid decline of its tiger population, but the fact that it has the highest rate of deforestation in the world to meet its ever growing demand for palm oil, pulp, and paper isn't helping conservation efforts.
Poaching for body parts and shrinking habitats are also contributing to the decline of these gorgeous striped cats, but the slight increase in their population shows there's still hope, and perhaps with a little more effort we can save these beautiful, beloved animals from extinction.