Wild tigers are on a path to extinction, a new report has warned. Researchers found that the big cats now occupy a mere 7 per cent of their historic range. In just the past 10 years, the territory known to be inhabited by tigers had declined by 41 per cent. Conservationists collected a decade of data on wild tigers and examined the potential threats they face. The report, compiled by Dr Eric Dinerstein of the World Wildlife Fund, and 15 co-authors, concludes: "While the tiger as a wild species will most likely not go extinct within the next half century, its current trajectory is catastrophic. "If this trend continues, the current range will shrink even further, and wild populations will disappear from many more places, or dwindle to the point of ecological extinction." Such a large and rapid contraction of territorial range signalled a "significant collapse", said the researchers. Today there are believed to be only about 5,000 tigers left in the wild. Once the animals could be found across an Asiatic expanse, stretching from the Caspian Sea to the island of Bali in Indonesia. Tiger populations have suffered as a result of a thriving trade in body parts, used for traditional medicines and adornments, and human encroachment on their habitats.


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