Tigers | WWF-Canada
	© Martin HARVEY / WWF


A long history of persecution

For over 1,000 years, tigers have been hunted as status symbols, decorative items such as wall and floor coverings, as souvenirs and curios, and for use in traditional Asian medicines.

Hunting for sport probably caused the greatest decline in tiger populations up until the 1930s. In many areas tigers were also regarded as a pest that needed to be exterminated. By the late 1980s, the greatest threats were loss of habitat due to human population expansion and activities such as logging; and trade in tiger bone for traditional medicines

Current threats to tigers can be separated into:
  • Poaching, which includes the illegal trade of tiger parts and products
  • Habitat loss and fragmentation, including from illegal logging and commercial plantations
  • Retributive killing due to human-tiger conflicts
  • Looming impacts of climate change on their habitats.

Learn more about threats to wild tigers with Rinjan Shrestha, WWF-Canada's lead specialist on Asian big cats:


Poaching and Illegal Trade

Poaching to feed continuing consumer demand for various tiger body parts – mostly for use in traditional medicine – is the largest immediate threat to wild tiger populations.

Deliberate and large-scale illegal hunting of tigers for their body parts has seen tigers completely wiped out in several reserves set up to protect them. Traders are even storing dead tigers for their parts, which increase in value as numbers of live tigers fall.

Find out what WWF is doing to stop poaching and illegal trade.
	© WWF-Canada
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Adopt a Tiger

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Anti-poaching staff display a leopard skin, a python skin and a tiger skin.
© Jeff Foott / WWF

Habitat Loss

Tigers have lost 93% of their historic range. Continued large-scale habitat destruction and decimation of prey populations are the major long-term threats to the continued existence of tigers in the wild.

Over the past few decades, tiger habitat has been extensively destroyed, degraded and fragmented by human activities – mainly clearing of forests for agriculture and the timber trade and development activities such as the building of road networks. In the last 10 years, tiger habitat decreased by an alarming 45%. Today, tigers occupy just 7% of their historic range.

Find out what WWF is doing to protect tiger habitats.
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Global Tiger Status

View wild tiger populations by country
Illegal logging for paper industry and forest clearing
© Alain Compost / WWF

Human-tiger Conflict

As growing human populations encroach further into natural habitats, people and tigers are increasingly competing over living space and food.

The resulting conflict not only threatens the world's remaining wild tigers, but poses a major problem for communities living in or near tiger habitat. If tigers do not have enough prey (due to hunting of prey species by people or poor quality habitat), they are forced into hunting domestic livestock – which many local communities depend on for their livelihood. Conflict with humans is a significant problem, particularly in Malaysia, Nepal, Bangladesh, and India.

In retaliation, tigers are often killed or captured and sent to a zoo, in an effort to prevent similar events happening in the future. Tigers killed as “conflict” animals often end up for sale in the black market, creating a link between human-tiger conflict and poaching for the illegal trade in tiger body parts.

Find out what WWF is doing with governments and other influential groups to protect tigers.
Women at the community forests, Nepal
© Simon de Trey-White / WWF-UK

There is still hope

Nature is on our side; tigers are plentiful breeders and can breed faster than their prey. With proper safeguards in place, including measures for habitat and prey species, and stopping tiger poaching and habitat destruction, we can double the number of wild tiger populations in by 2022, the next Chinese Year of the Tiger.

Learn more about what WWF is doing for tigers.
Updated April 11, 2016