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Of all the big cats, tigers (Panthera tigris) are closest to extinction. with fewer than 3,900 tigers remaining in the wild, they exist in only 4 percent of their historic range.

IUCN Red List Status
Least concern Near threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically endangered
Status on CITES Appendices
  Tigers exist in 11 countries in Asia, but confirmed breeding populations exist in only 8 countries
Tigers no longer live in 96 percent of their historic range. Much of this decline has occurred in the past decade.   Tigers are extinct in 10 countries​


Just over a century ago, there were as many as 100,000 wild tigers living in Asia. Today, fewer than 3,900 remain.

The tiger is classified into nine subspecies, three of which (Javan, Caspian, and Bali) are extinct. A fourth, the South-China subspecies, is most likely extinct in the wild, with no signs of its existence in the last decade. The existing subspecies are Bengal, Indochinese, Sumatran, Siberian, and Malayan.

Tigers are globally listed as “Endangered” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. The Malayan and Sumatran sub-species are listed as “Critically Endangered.”

Main threats

Wild tigers are hunted to meet the demands of the $20 billion a year illegal wildlife market. Tiger parts are consumed for traditional medicinal purposes across Asia, with a heavy demand in China.

Wild tigers are persecuted when villagers take retaliatory measures to protect their livestock and communities.

Tiger habitat is increasingly under threat from agricultural developments, especially monocultures like palm oil plantations.

Tiger prey, like deer and wild pigs, continue to be overhunted, forcing tigers to attack livestock to feed themselves and their cubs, thus fueling human-tiger conflict.

Conservation efforts

Tiger has been protected under Appendix I of  the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) since 1 July 1975 which means commercial international trade in tiger is prohibited.

At the Tiger Summit held in St Petersburg, Russia in November 2010, the 13 tiger range countries adopted a Global Tiger Recovery Program. The goal is to effectively double the number of wild Tigers by 2022 through actions to:

  • effectively preserve, manage, enhance and protect tiger habitats;
  • eradicate poaching, smuggling and illegal trade of tigers, their parts and derivatives;
  • cooperate in transboundary landscape management and in combating illegal trade;
  • engage with indigenous and local communities;
  • increase the effectiveness of Tiger and habitat management; and
  • restore Tigers to their former range.

The future of tiger range depends upon the Asian governments creating effective tiger landscapes by conserving large areas of suitable habitat. Within these landscapes, the most urgent need is to first secure the source sites—protected areas with viable tiger populations—where most of the global tiger population is now clustered, and many of which are currently too threatened to deliver their potential as the demographic sources for species recovery.

Many conservation organizations are also actively working with range countries in Asia to address the most serious threats to tigers, which include direct killing, depletion of prey, and habitat loss and fragmentation. Such activities include combatting poaching and other illegal activities through implementing effective enforcement of protected areas through well-trained park guards, identifying and securing tiger habitats, and using cutting-edge camera technology to prevent poaching and to protect and monitor tiger and prey populations.