WWF says tiger population up by 700 in 2016

Good news for those concerned about the state of endangered tigers – there are now about 22 percent more, or an additional 700 tigers than there were at the start of the decade. This marks the first time in close to a century that tiger counts have increased in the wild.

The World Wildlife Fund announced Sunday that there are now about 3,890 tigers in the wild, based on the organization’s latest checks on the animal’s worldwide counts. That’s close to 700 more than the estimated, record-low figure of 3,200 tigers in the wild as of 2010. According to the WWF, the growth in tiger count is mainly due to larger populations in several countries, including Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Russia; India happens to have more than half of the world’s tigers, with the count at 2,226 as of 2014. The organization also cited a few other drivers behind the increase in tigers, such as improved technology and tracking, and also ramped-up protection efforts from conservationist groups.

“This is a pivotal step in the recovery of one of the world’s most endangered and iconic species,” said WWF senior vice president of wildlife conservation Ginette Hemley. “Together with governments, local communities, philanthropists, and other NGOs, we’ve begun to reverse the trend in the century-long decline of tigers. But much more work and investment is needed if we are to reach our goal of doubling wild tiger numbers by 2022.”

Tigers are considered an endangered species, and conservationists from around the world remain concerned about the continued threat of tiger poaching. This is especially prominent in Southeast Asia, where deforestation is also a danger to the animal’s habitat. But officials from around the world have pledged not only to increase the tiger population by 2022, but actually double it. There’s still lots of work to do, the WWF adds, but Sunday’s data is indeed an encouraging sign.