With less than 3200 wild tigers in 2010, the heads of 13 tiger-range countries committed to doubling the global population of wild tigers by 2022. This goal represents the highest level of ambition and commitment required to turn the tide for tigers in the wild. Yet, ensuring efficient and targeted implementation of conservation actions alongside systematic monitoring of progress towards this goal requires that we set site-specific recovery targets and timelines that are ecologically realistic. In this study, we assess the recovery potential of 18 sites identified under WWF's Tigers Alive Initiative. We delineated recovery systems comprising a source, recovery site, and support region, which need to be managed synergistically to meet these targets. By using the best available data on tiger and prey numbers, and adapting existing species recovery frameworks, we show that these sites, which currently support 165 (118-277) tigers, have the potential to harbour 585 (454-739) individuals. This would constitute a 15% increase in the global population and represent over a three-fold increase within these specific sites, on an average. However, it may not be realistic to achieve this target by 2022, since tiger recovery in 15 of these 18 sites is contingent on the initial recovery of prey populations, which is a slow process. We conclude that while sustained conservation efforts can yield significant recoveries, it is critical that we commit our resources to achieving the biologically realistic targets for these sites even if the timelines are extended.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.