Photo: Paul Buxton

The world’s tiger population is doing poorly and may have been halved in the last 25 years, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The group estimates that the global tiger population has plummeted to about 3,500 today from as many as 7,500 in 1982. Habitat destruction and poaching to feed the thriving market in tiger body parts are thought to be the main drivers of the population decline. If China goes ahead with plans to legalize trafficking in tiger parts, the wild tiger population is expected to take an even bigger hit. Conservationists stressed that, while dire, the tigers’ situation could improve if governments work to preserve necessary habitat, step up anti-poaching efforts, and work to curb the tiger-parts market. “Tigers are indicators of ecosystem health; they are indicators of forest health,” said Sarah Christie, of the Zoological Society of London. “Saving the tiger is a test. If we pass, we get to keep the planet Earth.”

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