For the first time this century, the number of tigers in the wild appears to have increased.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said recent national surveys counted 3,890 tigers, up from about 3,200 in 2010. The increase could be in part due to improved survey methods, the group said, but tiger populations seem to be growing in India, Russia, Nepal, and Bhutan.
"This offers us great hope and shows that we can save species and their habitats when governments, local communities, and conservationists work together," Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International, said in a statement.
The new numbers come as leaders in Asia are set to discuss tiger conservation plans at a conference. In 2010, government leaders and conservationists set a goal to double the wild tiger population by 2022, which will be the year of the tiger.
Supporters of the initiative include actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who has donated $6.2 million to the effort through his foundation. DiCaprio said in a statement that he was particularly proud of the conservation strides made in Nepal.
"I am so proud that our collective efforts have begun to make progress toward our goal, but there is still so much to be done," he said. "I am optimistic about what can be achieved when governments, communities, conservationists and private foundations like ours come together to tackle global challenges."
Threats to tigers include loss of forest habitat and poaching. In 1900, it was estimated there were 100,000 tigers in the wild. Since then, their numbers have dropped steadily.
In Cambodia, no wild tiger has been seen since 2007. Officials on Wednesday for the first time acknowledged that they were "functionally extinct" from the country.
However, the Cambodian government, the WWF, and the Wildlife Alliance are working to restore tigers to the wild. A plan was approved last month to reintroduce the big cats to a protected rainforest.
Claudia Koerner is a national reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Claudia Koerner at email@example.com.
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