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Make this Lunar Year of the Tiger 2022, the Year of Tiger Rewilding in Laos

In celebration of the Lunar Year of the Tiger, WWF reflects on progress made since 2010 when the 13 tiger range countries set out to achieve an unprecedented goal: doubling the number of tigers in the wild.

As we enter 2022, the Year of the Tiger, WWF’s latest report on tiger conservation highlights that a centuries-long trend of wild tiger decline has finally been reversed — a rare and hard-fought conservation success story.

WWF’s Impact on Tiger Recovery 2010-2022 Report, which spotlights both progress, and urgency for global tiger recovery.

The report summarizes more than a decade of work and collaboration on tiger conservation and details both lessons learned and the unrelenting challenges for the future of this iconic big cat.

In Laos, as recently as the early 1980’s tigers reportedly roamed the outskirts of Vientiane around where the National University of Laos now stands.

Laos is one of 13 tiger range countries, containing ample tiger habitat but, like much of the tigers’ suitable habitat, it remains largely empty – with populations diminished largely due to hunting of prey species and of the tiger themselves.

The decline of tigers in Laos reminds us of the precarious situation of wildlife and of the urgent need to take action. However, with ample habitat comes ample opportunity, a hope of rewilding – hope to see tigers roaming the forests of Laos once more.

In concomitance to the celebration of the Lunar Year of the Tiger, 2022, WWF-Laos launched the new 5-Year Conservation Programme which includes the protection and recovery of the national and global priority species, including the recovery of tigers in Laos. Through the partnership with many conservation organizations and under the leadership of the Lao Government, we believe that recovering the tiger population in Laos is possible.

Tigers are one of the most iconic species on the planet, yet they are more than just a beautiful animal.

Rewilding tigers not only benefits Laos’s forests and wildlife but the people of Lao, too. As top predators, wild tigers play an important role in maintaining the harmony of the planet’s ecosystems. By preying on herbivores, tigers help to keep the balance between the prey animals and the forest vegetation which they feed upon.

In the previous Year of the Tiger, 2010, the Global Tiger Initiative was formed and the first-ever international meeting for tiger conservation, the St. Petersburg Tiger Summit was convened.

The event and initiative ignited international collaboration across the 13 tiger range country governments and the global conservation community towards a common goal for tiger recovery. This represents one of the greatest degrees of political will ever mustered for the protection of a single species to this day, as well as a clear turning point in the history of tiger conservation.

There is progress worth celebrating on tiger recovery, but it is vital to acknowledge that these gains are fragile and have not been uniform across Asia’s subregions with perilous declines in Malaysia and tigers now likely extinct in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

While the global estimate for wild tigers may be on the rise, their range has continued to decline and tigers today are restricted to less than 5 per cent of their historic range.

As we enter the Lunar Year of the Tiger, there is a pressing need to continue global tiger recovery efforts and strengthen all necessary actions to achieve a sustainable future for the species.

The pivotal moment for the future of tiger conservation will be the 2nd Global Tiger Summit on September 5th 2022 in Vladivostock, Russia.

Heads of states and ministers from tiger range countries will gather with other world leaders, and intergovernmental bodies, NGOs, and conservation experts, to determine the next phase of the Global Tiger Recovery Plan.

It will play a critical role in bringing the international community together, and reshaping the future of tiger conservation with a framework that is tiger-friendly, people-centred, and embedded within the global and national economic agenda. There is also an opportunity to address range decline with an ambitious new goal for range expansion.

WWF will continue to support core tiger conservation activities including the effective management of protected areas, disruption of the illegal wildlife trade, and demand reduction for tigers and their parts and products.

Beyond 2022, WWF will work with communities living in tiger landscapes to build connectivity, promote tiger reintroduction in the former range, reduce human-wildlife conflict and further strengthen transboundary conservation efforts.

We will also ensure alignment with broader priorities of the environmental agenda, including climate change adaptation and mitigation, land degradation, and ecosystem restoration and rewilding.

Source: Lao News Agency