Tigers Roar Back: 2013-2014 Season Indicates First Population Increase After All-Time Lows

Created: 13 September 2013

July 19, 2013

Last week I sat down to dinner in San Francisco with renowned India wildlife expert Raj Sinh, author of the top 3 best selling India field guides, and the country manager for both Wild Planet Adventures and National Geographic Adventures. Over tapas in the Mission district, we discussed the fate of tigers and some recent good news - the first in many years - for those considering a tiger safari in the approaching season. While the fate of the world's tiger populations remains extremely precarious, there are indications that the urgent interventions, increased anti-poaching efforts, and habitat management efforts of the last few years may be taking hold.

Raj confirmed what I had read with excitement earlier this month: several national parks in India, Nepal and Thailand have reported increased tiger populations, and the tiger safari season from November through April is anticipated to be one of the best in years.

In India there are confirmed reports of increased populations in tiger reserves, with good numbers of cubs born this year. The Forest Minister of Madhya Pradesh indicated that the total number of tigers in the state's six tiger reserves is believed to have increased from 257 to nearly 300. This includes Bandhavgarh and Kanha National Parks, featured in our India Ultimate Wildlife multi-safari and our Untamed India & Nepal safari respectively.


Additionally, the WWF has reported that the Bardia National Park in Nepal, also included in our Untamed India & Nepal safari, has doubled its tiger population from 18 to 37 in just two years. This exciting news is a result of Nepal's commitment to the TX2 initiative, which aims to double tiger populations nationwide by 2022, the next year of the tiger.

Thailand has also had a significant tiger comeback in the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary in the vast Western Forest Complex, according to WCS conservationists. Since the capture last year of a notorious poaching ring, there have been no known tiger or elephant poaching incidents in the park. Tiger numbers have been rising steadily in the park since 2007, with a record 50-plus tigers counted last year. The Western Forest Complex includes Kaeng Krachan National Park, the largest and least-visited national Park in Thailand, featured in our Hidden Thailand and Thailand/Laos Ultimate Wildlife itineraries.

Tiger rescue and relocation programs at Manas National Park, in the Assam region of India, have also seen recent notoriety thanks to their efforts. A rescued and relocated adult tiger has just completed over 1,100 days in the wild - a new record. Raj and I were very excited about this, as it is one of the most successful rescue and rehabilitation stories in the field of wildlife conservation. Manas is one my favorite little-known secrets; when Raj took me there to scout I was stunned by its sub-Himalayan beauty. It is now one of four UNESCO World Heritage Sites we visit in our India Ultimate Wildlife Safari.

The news is not all good for tigers. India's deadliest poacher, Sansar Chand, will be released from prison on a technicality as early as the end of July. Sansar Chand was jailed for 7 years for killing hundreds of tigers and thousands of other wildlife species. At the time of his arrest, more than 500 tiger skins were recovered from him. He is said to be single-handedly responsible for the eradication of the entire tiger population of Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary in Rajasthan.

Want to help save our tigers? You can contribute directly to Panthera Save the Tiger Fund or join one of Wild Planet Adventure's safaris in India, Nepal, or Thailand. A portion of your trip fees goes to Project Tiger and other conservation organizations, which provide exclusive presentations for our travelers including interaction with local conservationists and tribal leaders in the evenings after your tiger safaris.

Josh Cohen

Director, Wild Planet Adventures

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