Tiger conservation

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The tiger is an iconic species. Tiger conservation attempts to prevent the animal from becoming extinct and preserving its natural habitat. This is one of the main objectives of the international animal conservation community. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has played a crucial role in improving international efforts for tiger conservation.

Contents

CITES

CITES is an international governance network employing tools and measures which adapt and become more efficient with time. [1] One measure specifically aimed at protecting the tiger is visible in the network’s efforts to ban the trade of tigers or tiger derivatives. [1] CITES members have agreed to adhere to this international trade ban; once a member states ratifies and implements CITES it bans such trade within its national borders. [2]

The CITES Secretariat is administrated by the UNEP [3] which works closely with NGOs such as The Trade Records Analysis of Flora and Fauna in Commerce (TRAFFIC) to assist member states with the implementation of the convention. States are provided with training and information about requirements (when necessary), and their progress and a compliance are monitored and evaluated. [3] [4]

In order for CITES to work effectively it requires the involvement of institutions, NGOs, civil society and member states: especially Asian tiger range member countries. The Tiger Range Countries (TRC) – countries where tigers still roam free – are:

While there have been no recent tigers sightings in North Korea, it is the only country listed which has not ratified CITES. [5] [6]

The 13 TRC who are CITES member states recently held a conference in Russia and jointly vowed to double the estimated number of tigers left in the wild (3200). [7] [8] Poaching, however, remains a very significant problem in all 13 TRC, despite the implementation of CITES regulations within their borders. [7]

In the 15th CITES conference held in Doha, Qatar in March 2010, all party members agreed to stricter agreements between members states to protect the tiger. [8] However the United Nations warned that tigers are still at risk of becoming extinct as members states are currently failing to clamp down hard on the illegal trade of tigers and tiger derivatives within their borders. [9]

Although CITES has been successful in curbing this illegal trade, CITES as an international institution relies on member states to effectively implement conventions within their national borders. The quality of such implementation varies significantly within member states. [10] [11] For example, Thailand implemented CITES policies to a very high standard but the illegal tiger trade is still rife within this country. [12] A governance structure such as CITES is powerless to control issues such as poaching unless it has the full cooperation of all actors, including the state.

Another reason why CITES seems to be failing could be ascribed to the lucrative nature of the tiger trade. The World Bank estimates that the illegal international trade of wildlife on the black market is worth an estimated $10bn per year. [9] By selling one tiger skeleton, a poacher could make an amount equal to what some labourer would earn in 10 years. [13]

A report released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature reported that wild tiger populations were 40% higher than previously estimated, with between 3,726 and 5,578 tigers believed to be in the wild. [14] Despite these improvements, populations of tigers have declined precipitously in Malaysia and are now likely extinct in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.

India

Comparison in distribution historically and 2006 Tiger map.svg
Comparison in distribution historically and 2006

Project Tiger, started in 1973, is a major effort to conserve the tiger and its habitats in India. [15] At the turn of the 20th century, one estimate of the tiger population in India placed the figure at 40,000, yet an Indian tiger census conducted in 1972 revealed the existence of only 1827 tigers. Various pressures in the latter part of the 20th century led to the progressive decline of wilderness resulting in the disturbance of viable tiger habitats. At the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) General Assembly meeting in Delhi in 1969, serious concern was voiced about the threat to several wildlife species, and the shrinkage of wilderness in India from poaching. In 1970, a national ban on tiger hunting was imposed, and in 1972 the Wildlife Protection Act came into force. The framework was then set to formulate a project for tiger conservation with an ecological approach.

Project Tiger aims at tiger conservation in specially-constituted tiger reserves, which are representative of various bio-geographical regions in the country. It strives to maintain viable tiger populations in their natural environment. As of 2019, there are 50 tiger reserves in India, covering an area of 37,761 km2 (14,580 sq mi). [16]

At the Kalachakra Tibetan Buddhist festival in India in January 2006, the Dalai Lama preached a ruling against using, selling, or buying wild animals, their products, or derivatives. When Tibetan pilgrims returned to Tibet afterwards, his words resulted in the widespread destruction by Tibetans of their wild animal skins, including tiger and leopard skins used as ornamental garments. [17] [18]

In 2010 India signed an agreement, along with 12 other countries with tiger populations, to double its tiger numbers by 2022. [19] India’s 2014 tiger census showed a population of 2,226, a sharp increase from its all-time low of 1,411 in 2006 and about a 30% increase from its tiger population in 2011. [20] A comprehensive survey from 2018 showed a tiger population of 2,962, an increase of 33% from the 2014 numbers, [21] although independent researchers and conservation experts have suggested that the promising tiger numbers be used with some caution. [22]

China

In China, tigers became the target of large-scale ‘anti-pest’ campaigns in the early 1950s, where suitable habitats were fragmented following deforestation and resettlement of people to rural areas, who hunted tigers and prey species. Though tiger hunting was prohibited in 1977, the population continued to decline and is considered extinct in southern China since 2001. [23] [24] In northeastern China's Hunchun National Nature Reserve, camera-traps recorded a tiger with four cubs for the first time in 2012. [25] During subsequent surveys, between 27 and 34 tigers were documented along the China–Russia border. [26] [27]

During the early 1970s, such as in the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, China rejected the Western-led environmentalist movement as an impeachment on the full use of its own resources. However, this stance softened during the 1980s, as China emerged from diplomatic isolation and desired normal trade relations with Western countries. China became a party to the CITES treaty in 1981, bolstering efforts at tiger conservation by transnational groups like Project Tiger, which were supported by the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank. In 1988, China passed the Law on the Protection of Wildlife, listing the tiger as a Category I protected species. In 1993, China banned the trade on tiger parts, which led to a drop in the number of tiger bones harvested for use in traditional Chinese medicine. [28]

In 2008, the UK newspaper the Sunday Telegraph published an expose on the illegal sale of tiger bones from protect tiger sanctuaries. [29] Subsequently, in 2018, the State Council of the People's Republic of China proposed a new order that would allow for the use of farmed tiger bones in medical research and treatment - this sparked a significant international backlash. While the implementation of the order was delayed, the order itself was not rescinded. [30] On 25 October 2018, the 25-year ban against the use of rhino horn and tiger body parts was lifted. [31]

Tiger trade in Tibet

However, as the tiger bone trade was undermined by effective Chinese legislation in the 1990s, the Tibetan people's trade in tiger pelts emerged as a relatively more important threat to tigers. As wealth in the Tibetan areas increased, singers and participants in annual Tibetan horse races began to wear chuba (traditional Tibetan robes) with trimmed with tiger, otter, and leopard fur. Clothing ornamented with tiger pelts became a standard of beauty, and even mandatory at weddings, with Tibetan families competing to buy larger and larger pelts to demonstrate their social status. [28] In 2003, Chinese customs officials in Tibet intercepted 31 tigers, 581 leopards, and 778 otters, which, if sold in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, would have netted $10,000, $850, and $250 respectively. By 2004, international conservation organizations such as World Wide Fund for Nature, Fauna and Flora International, and Conservation International were targeting Tibetans in China in successful environmental propaganda campaigns against the tiger skin trade. In the summer of 2005, the Environmental Investigation Agency sent undercover teams to Litang and Nagchu in order to film documentation of Tibetan violations of Chinese environmental law for submission to the Chinese CITES office. In April 2005, Care for the Wild International and Wildlife Trust of India confronted the 14th Dalai Lama about the Tibetan trade, and his response was recorded as "awkward" and "ambushed", with suspicion against the NGOs for trying to "dramatize" the situation as "mak[ing] it seem as if Tibetans were the culprit". [28]

Conservation efforts

In 2017, China established the largest tiger protection area in the world, the Northeast Tiger and Leopard National Park, along the shared border with Russia and North Korea. [32] To create sufficient habitat for tigers, leopards, and sufficient sources of prey animals, Chinese officials planned to relocate between 70,000 and 80,000 residents either to the outside of the park or into a few settlements permitted within the park’s boundaries. The park was officially launched on 12 October 2021. [33] Although the park is the largest of its kind, researchers from the Northeast Forestry University in Harbin have suggested that the park's capacity is insufficient to support the sustained existence of a Siberian tiger population. [34]

Other areas

Forest cover in Vietnam has been reduced to less than 15% of the original extent before the 1940s, due to warfare, illegal logging, and slash and burn agricultural practices. The tiger is legally protected in the country since 1960, but trade of tiger body parts continued to the mid 1990s. [35] Tigers were still present in northern Vietnam bordering China in the 1990s. [36] As of 2015, this population is considered possibly extinct. [37] The tiger population in Laos was already depleted when National Biodiversity Conservation Areas were established in 1993. [38] By the late 1990s, tigers were still present in at least five conservation areas. Hunting of tigers for illegal trade of body parts and opportunistic hunting of tiger prey species were considered the main threats to the country's tiger population. [39] Five tigers were recorded in Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area between April 2003 and June 2004. Large wild prey species occurred at low densities so that tigers hunted small prey and livestock, which probably affected their reproduction negatively. [40]

In Cambodia, tigers were sighted in remote forest areas in the mid 1980s. Protected areas were established in 1993, but large extents of forest outside these areas were given as logging concessions to foreign companies. [35] In 1998, interviewed hunters corroborated tiger presence in the Cardamom and Dâmrei Mountains. [41] During surveys between 1999 and 2007 in nine protected areas and more than 300 locations across the country, tigers were recorded only in the Mondulkiri Protected Forest and in Virachey National Park. The country's tiger population was therefore considered extremely small. [42] As of 2015, it is considered possibly extinct. [37] In Thailand, forests were protected by establishing 81 national parks, 39 wildlife sanctuaries and 49 non-hunting areas between 1962 and 1996, including 12 protected areas exceeding 1,000 km2 (390 sq mi). Logging was banned in 1989. [35] Despite this extensive protected area network, tigers were recorded in 10 of 17 protected area complexes during countrywide surveys between 2004 and 2007. Tiger density was lower than predicted on basis of available forest habitat. The Myanmar tiger population was limited to the Tanintharyi Region and Hukaung Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in 2006. [43] In Peninsular Malaysia, tigers occur only in four protected areas exceeding 400 km2 (150 sq mi). [44] The last tiger in Singapore was shot in 1932. [45]

Conservation organisations

One of the biggest threats to tiger populations is habitat fragmentation. A program called the Terai-Arc Landscape (TAL) has been working directly with improving tiger habitats, specifically fragmented habitats in Nepal and northern India. [46] Their main strategy is to link up the subpopulations of tigers that have been separated by setting up special tiger corridors that connect the fragmented habitats. [46] The corridors are built to promote migration and/or dispersion of certain tiger populations giving them the ability to unite with other tigers. [47] Giving tigers the ability to mate with a larger selection of individuals will increase the gene pool for the tigers, which will lead to more diversity, higher birth rates, and higher cub survival.

Panthera is a conservation organization that’s the main goal is to preserve wild cats focusing on tigers, lions, snow leopards, and jaguars. [48] In July 2006, Panthera collaborated with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to form Tigers Forever, one of their main tiger projects. [49] Tigers Forever plans to increase the number of tigers in key areas by 50% over ten years. [49] Key Areas include: India, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia and Indonesia. [49] This project is experimental and hopes to increase the number of tigers by eliminating human threats and monitoring tiger and prey populations. [49] To accomplish these goals they are increasing the amount and quality of law enforcement in these areas and working with informants to catch poachers. [49] Another project spearheaded by Panthera is the Tiger Corridor Initiative (TCI). [50] Human development in the Tiger Range Countries (TRC) has left many tiger habitats fragmented. Habitat fragmentation leads to a division of tiger populations, which reduces the gene pool and makes it difficult for tigers to reproduce. The TCI is a new project, very similar to the Terai-Arc Landscape (TAL) project that plans to link protected core populations of tigers with one another using corridors that will provide safe passage for tigers. [50] This will give the separated tiger populations access to each other, which in theory should increase the number of tigers as well as genetic diversity. [50]

Another organization involved with the conservation of tigers is the Save the Tiger Fund (STF). The STF was founded in 1995 by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and focuses on preserving wild tigers. [51] The STF has contributed over $10.6 million and participated in a total of 196 conservation efforts that provide a number of services to help to mitigate the human-tiger conflict, protect tiger habitats, research tiger ecology, monitor tiger populations, and educate locals on the importance of saving the tiger. [51] [52] The STF also participates in a grant program and has given a total of $1700.3 billion in the form of 33600 grants to the tiger range countries (TRC) to help protect the existing populations. [51] ExxonMobil is the number one contributor to the STF donating nearly $12 million between 1995 and 2004. [53] Currently the STF has teamed up with Panthera to form the STF-Panthera Partnership. [51] They plan to combine their expertise in tiger conservation to help save the wild tiger. [51]

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) also contributes to tiger conservation. They have set an ambitious goal called Tx2 to double the wild tiger population by 2022, the next Chinese Year of the Tiger. [54] To reach this goal, their primary efforts lie in protecting landscapes where they feel tigers have the highest chance of surviving and increasing, preventing poaching, and working to decrease demand for tiger parts. [55] Much of the funding for this project comes from a partnership between the WWF and Leonardo DiCaprio called Save Tigers Now. [56] Save Tigers Now focuses on fundraising to help the WWF meet their Tx2 goal. [56] During the last Year of the Tiger, 2010, a summit called the International Tiger Conservation Forum was held in Russia to discuss efforts to save the tiger. [55] This meeting led to contributions totaling $127 million from the governments involved to support tiger conservation and an agreement to participate in the Global Tiger Recovery Program developed by the Global Tiger Initiative over the next five years from all 13 of the Tiger Range Countries. [55]

The Global Tiger Initiative is an alliance between governments created to save wild tigers from going extinct founded in June 2008. Among other successful conservation programs, the GTI developed The Global Tiger Recovery Program (GRTP) to assist in reaching the goal of doubling the number of wild tigers through effective management and restoration of tiger habitats; the elimination of poaching, smuggling, and illegal trade of tigers, and their parts; collaboration to manage borders and in stopping illegal trade; working with indigenous and local communities; and returning tigers to their former range. [57]

WildTeam uses a social marketing approach to create innovative, community-based conservation solutions to help save tigers in the Sundarbans of India. WildTeam has developed a system of volunteer village teams that save tigers that stray into villages and reduce human-tiger conflict.

Data collection techniques

Data collection is required to know where conservation efforts and resources need to be applied. To collect such data, techniques such as radio collars and capture-recapture population estimation models have been used to collect population numbers. [58] To specify, “tiger searching” is a basic method that involves either riding elephants or driving off-road vehicles into tiger territory and identifying individuals as well as their locations. [58] The pugmark census technique is also used during these travels. This involves observing paw prints in the ground and taking measurements of width, length and indentation to determine the individual that was in the location. [58] Dogs are also used to assist tracking the tiger by smell. Once the tigers are found, photographs, drawings and notes regarding sex, location, and other details of the individual are taken and sent back to the study camp. [58] There are also multiple reserves that allow professional guided tourists to explore via elephant mahout, where sightings are recorded if tigers are seen along the trails. [58]

Another method, referred to as “camera traps” involves setting up surveying cameras that activate when there is movement detected and will spontaneously take multiple photographs of the area. [58] Camera traps are not often used by reserve management due to their expense and the need for trained personal to operate the equipment, but are becoming more common in tiger research due to their accuracy. [58]

Capture-recapture models are now commonly used in conjunction with tiger tracking. [58] They not only measure population numbers, but also measure demographic parameters [58] This combination technique consists of camera traps and basic tiger search to collect sufficient data. [58] Once researchers and conservation biologists are able to gain knowledge of the population and its numbers, conservation efforts are put to work. Selection of initial focus areas are determined by level of potential success once efforts are put into place. Factors determining success generally include size of protected area, biodiversity in the environment, number of tigers in the area, connectivity of the area to buffer zones, funding, and public and local community support. These factors are just a few of the aspects of conservation that are weighed, but public and community support has proven to be one of the major factors that can determine the success or failure of a conservation project.

Rewilding and reintroduction projects

A rewilded South China tiger hunting blesbok in South Africa Tigerwoods chasing blesbucks.jpg
A rewilded South China tiger hunting blesbok in South Africa

In 1978, the Indian conservationist Billy Arjan Singh attempted to rewild a captive-bred tigress in Dudhwa National Park. [59] Soon after the release, numerous people were killed and eaten by a tigress that was subsequently shot. Government officials claimed it was Tara, though Singh disputed this. Further controversy broke out with the discovery that Tara was partly Siberian tiger. [60] [61] [62] [63] Tigers were reintroduced to Sariska Tiger Reserve in 2008 and to Panna Tiger Reserve in 2009. [64] [65]

The organisation Save China's Tigers has attempted to rewild the South China tigers, with a breeding and training programme in a South African reserve known as Laohu Valley Reserve (LVR) and eventually reintroduce them to the wild of China. [66]

A future rewilding project was proposed for Siberian tigers set to be reintroduced to northern Russia's Pleistocene park. The Siberian tigers sent to Iran for a captive breeding project in Tehran are set to be rewilded and reintroduced to the Miankaleh peninsula, to replace the now extinct Caspian tigers. [67] [68]

See also

Related Research Articles

Tiger Largest species of the cat family

The tiger is the largest living cat species and a member of the genus Panthera. It is most recognisable for its dark vertical stripes on orange fur with a white underside. An apex predator, it primarily preys on ungulates, such as deer and wild boar. It is territorial and generally a solitary but social predator, requiring large contiguous areas of habitat to support its requirements for prey and rearing of its offspring. Tiger cubs stay with their mother for about two years and then become independent, leaving their mother's home range to establish their own.

Gaur Largest species of the bovid family

The gaur, also known as the Indian bison, is a bovine native to South and Southeast Asia, and has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1986. The global population was estimated at a maximum of 21,000 mature individuals in 2016. It has declined by more than 70% during the last three generations, and is extirpated from Sri Lanka and most likely Bangladesh. Populations in well-protected areas are stable and increasing.

The term "big cat" is typically used to refer to any of the five living members of the genus Panthera, namely the tiger, lion, jaguar, leopard, and snow leopard, as well as the non-pantherine cheetah and cougar.

Bengal tiger Tiger population in Indian subcontinent

The Bengal tiger is a population of the Panthera tigris tigris subspecies. It ranks among the biggest wild cats alive today. It is considered to belong to the world's charismatic megafauna.

Siberian tiger Tiger population in Northeast Asia

The Siberian tiger or Amur tiger is a population of the tiger subspecies Panthera tigris tigris native to the Russian Far East, Northeast China and possibly North Korea. It once ranged throughout the Korean Peninsula, but currently inhabits mainly the Sikhote-Alin mountain region in southwest Primorye Province in the Russian Far East. In 2005, there were 331–393 adult and subadult Siberian tigers in this region, with a breeding adult population of about 250 individuals. The population had been stable for more than a decade because of intensive conservation efforts, but partial surveys conducted after 2005 indicate that the Russian tiger population was declining. An initial census held in 2015 indicated that the Siberian tiger population had increased to 480–540 individuals in the Russian Far East, including 100 cubs. This was followed up by a more detailed census which revealed there was a total population of 562 wild Siberian tigers in Russia. As of 2014, about 35 individuals were estimated to range in the international border area between Russia and China.

Indochinese tiger Tiger population in Southeast Asia

The Indochinese tiger is a population of the Panthera tigris tigris subspecies that is native to Southeast Asia. This population occurs in Myanmar, Thailand, and Laos. In 2011, the population was thought to comprise 342 individuals, including 85 in Myanmar and 20 in Vietnam, with the largest population unit surviving in Thailand estimated at 189 to 252 individuals during 2009 to 2014.

Asiatic lion Lion population in India

The Asiatic lion is a population of Panthera leo leo that today survives in the wild only in India. Since the turn of the 20th century, its range has been restricted to Gir National Park and the surrounding areas in the Indian state of Gujarat. Historically, it inhabited much of the Middle East to northern India.

Wildlife conservation Practice of protecting wild plant and animal species and their habitats

Wildlife conservation refers to the practice of protecting wild species and their habitats in order to maintain healthy wildlife species or populations and to restore, protect or enhance natural ecosystems. Major threats to wildlife include habitat destruction, degradation, fragmentation, overexploitation, poaching, pollution and climate change. The IUCN estimates that 27,000 species of the ones assessed are at risk for extinction. Expanding to all existing species, a 2019 UN report on biodiversity put this estimate even higher at a million species. It is also being acknowledged that an increasing number of ecosystems on Earth containing endangered species are disappearing. To address these issues, there have been both national and international governmental efforts to preserve Earth's wildlife. Prominent conservation agreements include the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). There are also numerous nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) dedicated to conservation such as the Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, the Wild Animal Health Fund and Conservation International.

South China tiger Subspecies of carnivore

The South China tiger is a population of the Panthera tigris tigris subspecies that is native to southern China. The population mainly inhabited the Fujian, Guangdong, Hunan and Jiangxi provinces. It has been listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List since 1996 and is possibly extinct in the wild since no wild individual has been recorded since the late 1980s. In the late 1990s, continued survival was considered unlikely because of low prey density, widespread habitat degradation and fragmentation, and other human pressures. In the fur trade, it used to be called Amoy tiger.

Javan tiger Extinct tiger population in Sunda Island Java

The Javan tiger was a Panthera tigris sondaica population native to the Indonesian island of Java until the mid-1970s. It was hunted to extinction, and its natural habitat converted for agricultural land use and infrastructure. It was one of the three tiger populations in the Sunda Islands.

Malayan tiger Tiger population in Malayan Peninsula

The Malayan tiger is a tiger from a specific population of the Panthera tigris tigris subspecies that is native to Peninsular Malaysia. This population inhabits the southern and central parts of the Malay Peninsula and has been classified as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List since 2015. As of April 2014, the population was estimated at 80 to 120 mature individuals with a continuous declining trend.

Arabian leopard Leopard subspecies in the Arabian Peninsula

The Arabian leopard is a leopard subspecies native to the Arabian Peninsula. It has been listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List since 1996 as fewer than 200 wild individuals were estimated to be alive in 2006. The population is severely fragmented. Subpopulations are isolated and not larger than 50 mature individuals. The population is thought to decline continuously.

The tiger is the National Animal of India, and approximately 80% of the global tiger population is found in the country. In popular local languages, tigers are called called baagh or sher. The Bengal Tiger is the species found all across the country. These can attain the largest body size among all the Felidae, and therefore are called Royal Bengal Tigers. The body length measured from its nose to the tip of the tail can reach up to 3 meter and it can weigh up to 280 Kilogram with male being heavier than the female. The average life expectancy is about 15 years in wild. It is solitary and territorial. Tigers in India usually hunts chital, sambar, barasingha, wild buffalo nilgai and gaur and other animals such as the wild pig for prey and sometimes even other predators like leopards and bears.

Indian leopard Leopard subspecies

The Indian leopard is a leopard subspecies widely distributed on the Indian subcontinent. The species Panthera pardus is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List because populations have declined following habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching for the illegal trade of skins and body parts, and persecution due to conflict situations. The Indian leopard is one of the big cats occurring on the Indian subcontinent, along with the Asiatic lion, Bengal tiger, snow leopard and clouded leopard. In 2014, a national census of leopards around tiger habitats was carried out in India except the northeast. 7,910 individuals were estimated in surveyed areas and a national total of 12,000-14,000 speculated.

India is home to a large variety of wildlife. It is a biodiversity hotspot with its various ecosystems ranging from the Himalayas in the north to the evergreen rain forests in the south, the sands of the west to the marshy mangroves of the east. India lies within the Indomalayan realm and is the home to about 7.6% of mammal, 14.7% of amphibian, 6% of bird, 6.2% of reptilian, and 6.0% of flowering plant species. India's forest lands nurture about 500 species of mammals and more than 2000 bird species.

Snow leopard Species of large felid (Panthera uncia)

The snow leopard, also known as the ounce, is a felid in the genus Panthera native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia. It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List because the global population is estimated to number fewer than 10,000 mature individuals and is expected to decline about 10% by 2040. It is threatened by poaching and habitat destruction following infrastructural developments. It inhabits alpine and subalpine zones at elevations of 3,000–4,500 m (9,800–14,800 ft), ranging from eastern Afghanistan, the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau to southern Siberia, Mongolia and western China. In the northern part of its range, it also lives at lower elevations.

Endangered species Species of organisms facing a very high risk of extinction

An endangered species is a species that is very likely to become extinct in the near future, either worldwide or in a particular political jurisdiction. Endangered species may be at risk due to factors such as habitat loss, poaching and invasive species. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List lists the global conservation status of many species, and various other agencies assess the status of species within particular areas. Many nations have laws that protect conservation-reliant species which, for example, forbid hunting, restrict land development, or create protected areas. Some endangered species are the target of extensive conservation efforts such as captive breeding and habitat restoration.

Amur leopard Leopard subspecies in Far East Asia

The Amur leopard is a leopard subspecies native to the Primorye region of southeastern Russia and northern China. It is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List, as in 2007, only 19–26 wild leopards were estimated to survive in southeastern Russia and northeastern China. It is considered one of the rarest cats on Earth.

Indochinese leopard Leopard subspecies

The Indochinese leopard is a leopard subspecies native to mainland Southeast Asia and southern China. In Indochina, leopards are rare outside protected areas and threatened by habitat loss due to deforestation as well as poaching for the illegal wildlife trade. The population trend is suspected to be decreasing. As of 2016, the population is thought to comprise 973–2,503 mature individuals, with only 409–1,051 breeding adults. The historical range has decreased by more than 90%.

Chang Tang National Nature Reserve lies in the northern Tibetan Plateau. It is the third-largest land nature reserve in the world, after the Northeast Greenland National Park and Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, with an area of over 334,000 km2 (129,000 sq mi), making it bigger than 183 countries. Administratively, it lies in Xainza County and Biru County of the Nagqu Prefecture. With the more recently established adjoining reserves listed below there is now a total of 496,000 km2 of connected Nature Reserves, which represents an area almost as large as Spain and bigger than 197 other countries.

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