In the last century, the world has lost about 95% of its tigers. If the wild population continues to decline at this rate, this big cat species faces extinction in the wild by 2022.
The tiger is an adaptive species, but it requires adequate territory and prey to survive. And they’re threatened by poaching, illegal trade, habitat loss and retributive killing (often due to livestock predation). With as few as 3,200 tigers left in the wild, the species has become one of the most vulnerable on the planet.
But there’s still hope. Tigers are fast breeders and, if proper conservation strategies are in place, the species could rebound by the next Year of the Tiger (2022).
Researchers believe that a thriving population could be living in the little-known, remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. Although exact tiger population numbers are unknown in this area, the rugged landscape and river valleys of this area are prime natural tiger habitat.
Could this elusive population be key to the species’ survival?
To gather hard evidence of tigers in this region, a research team heads to Bhutan and hides thirty remote cameras in the forest. They’ll work to find tigers, document stripe patterns to identify individual animals, and determine the overall health of the population. But will they find the elusive big cats?
Watch Lost Land of the Tiger on Friday, April 8th at 9 PM et/pt on the National Geographic Channel, and learn more about the Global Tiger Initiative.