Biodiv Sci ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (9): 22421.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2022421

• Special Feature: Research and Conservation of China's Felidae Species • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Restoring tiger population in Asia: Challenges, opportunities, and future prospects

Yixiao Zhu1,2,3, Dawei Wang1,2,3, Zhilin Li4, Jiawei Feng1,2,3, Tianming Wang1,2,3,*()   

  1. 1. National Forestry and Grassland Administration Key Laboratory for Conservation Ecology of Northeast Tiger and Leopard, Beijing 100875
    2. Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Biodiversity Science and Engineering, Beijing 100875
    3. College of Life Sciences, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875
    4. Tianjin Key Laboratory of Conservation and Utilization of Animal Diversity, College of Life Sciences, Tianjin Normal University, Tianjin 300387
  • Received:2022-07-22 Accepted:2022-09-21 Online:2022-09-20 Published:2022-09-28
  • Contact: Tianming Wang


Background & Aim: The tiger (Panthera tigris) may be the most charismatic and well-recognized flagship species in the world. As an ecological umbrella species and apex predator, the species symbolizes the well-being of the forest ecosystem. Tigers have lost 93% of their historical range and are experiencing rapid population declines. To enact effective conservation, it is important to understand the ecology and natural history of this globally endangered species. In this paper, we review previous articles related to tiger ecology and conservation research, summarizing the population dynamics and major conservation challenges in Asia in order to outline the actions required to conserve tigers and their ecosystems.
Review Results: We found that, while overall research about tigers was increasing, efforts focused primarily on the subspecies with the most remaining range (e.g., P. t. tigris and P. t. altaica) and neglected subspecies requiring urgent attention. Tiger population has increased over the past decade, with estimates increasing from 3,200 to 4,500 during 2010-2021. However, stressors such as habitat fragmentation and loss, hunting of tigers and their prey, illegal trade, and human-tiger conflicts have isolated wild tigers in small populations across their ancestral range. Isolation, small territories, and disease further threaten the extant subspecies.
Perspectives: We suggest that establishing a long-term monitoring network is critical for the conservation of tigers. To achieve the goal of a large tiger meta-population across Asia we recommend extensive land use planning, restoring native ungulates, reducing anthropogenic disturbances, improving connectivity of tiger habitats, controlling disease, and extensive cooperation across territories. In landscapes lacking breeding females, we also recommend reintroduction of tigers as a means of increasing recovery speeds.

Key words: tiger, distribution, threats, carnivores, conservation