The struggle and resilience of the world's tigers, in photos

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Tiger selfies are being blamed for the rise in tigers' captivity in Thailand


​​​​The world's tigers are in trouble.

Over the last 100 years alone, global tiger populations have declined more than 95 percent. According to the most recent data, there are only 3,890 wild tigers in the world today. In fact, the number of captive tigers, or those held in zoos, exceeds the wild population by about 1,000.

Although tigers are arguably one of the most recognizable wild animals in the world, many of us are ignorant to the big cats' alarming struggle. But the significant strain on tiger populations largely comes from manmade threats.

The poaching of tigers for their iconic fur skin — along with market demand for their bones and meat — have pummeled global populations over the last century. Climate change, and deforestation for the development of cities and agriculture, have also made the cats' natural habitats unstable. Currently, tigers inhabit only 7 percent of their former habitat range, most of which is in regions across Asia.

The strain on tigers is so severe that the animal has been listed as an endangered species since 1970. Of the eight known subspecies of tigers, three are already extinct. Conservationists suspect another subspecies is extinct in the wild, but it has not been confirmed.

Though they face a grim reality, not all hope is lost for tigers. Conservationists increased their attention on the species in the '70s, working to revitalize populations across the globe. And it's working. The global wild tiger population is up significantly from the 3,200 tigers that existed in the wild in 2010.

Still, urgent work is needed to revitalize tiger populations around the world.

In honor of International Tiger Day on July 29, we rounded up these images that show both the plight and resilience of tiger populations, along with resources on how you can help these big cats thrive.

18 PHOTOS
The struggle and resilience of the world's tigers
See Gallery
The struggle and resilience of the world's tigers
An Indochinese Tiger cub drinks water at a new enclosure at the Tierpark zoo in Berlin, Tuesday, April 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
VLADIVOSTOCK, RUSSIA - UNDATED: A Siberian Tiger in the forests of Primorskii Provinve near Vladivostok, Russia. Wildlife experts have warned that wild tigers could be extinct by 2022 if new measures to protect their habitat are not taken. Speaking at the Tiger Summit in St Petersburg, scientists from the World Wildlife Fund confirmed numbers of wild tigers have dwindled to 3,200 from 10,000 a century ago. These moving pictures show Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin visiting the Barabash tiger reserve, in eastern Siberia. During his visit Mr Putin assisted staff in placing an electronic tag on a rare Amur (Siberian) tiger by shooting it with a tranquilliser gun. Amur tigers are extremely rare and almost became extinct in the wild in the 1940's. Tiger body parts are used in traditional Chinese medicine and one animal can fetch up to £20,000 on the black market. The object of the Tiger Summit is to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022, the next time it will be the Chinese year of the Tiger. (Photo by Animal Press / Barcroft Media / Getty Images)
Male Sumatran tiger 'Iban' yawns in its enclosure in the Frankfurt zoo Monday April 8, 2013. Weather forecasts predict rising temperatures and rainy weather for the next few days in Germany. (AP Photo/dpa, Boris Roessler)
HARBIN, CHINA - OCTOBER 25: (CHINA OUT) A Siberian tiger stands on a hill in the Hengdaohezi Breeding Center for Felidae on October 25, 2007 in Harbin of Heilongjiang Province, China. The center, established in 1986, is the world's biggest captive breeding base for Siberian tigers and more than 800 Siberian tigers have been raised here. The wild Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) only distributed in northeast China, the far east area of Russia and north Korea; its wild population is about 450 in the world and 20 in China. Several hundred captive populations of Siberian tigers are the main source to protect gene library of tiger and the source of recovering the wild populations. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)
One of the two five month old Indian white tiger male cubs, named Kiran and Sharan, plays with his mother Sameera at their enclosure at Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad on March 21, 2013. The unusual white colouration of white tigers has made them popular in zoos and entertainment showcasing exotic animals. AFP PHOTO / Noah SEELAM (Photo credit should read NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images)
A Siberian tiger cools itself in the pool of the tigers' enclosure in the Gyongyos Zoo in Gyongyos, 79 kms northeast of Budapest, Hungary, Friday, June 24, 2016, as the highest daytime temperature reaches 32-36 Centigrade, 89.6 - 96.8 Fahrenheit throughout the country. The Hungarian health authority has issued the second highest degree heat alert till next Sunday. (Peter Komka/MTi via AP)
(GERMANY OUT) Zoologischer Garten Berlin / 20.06.2013 Bild-Motiv: Hinterindischer Tiger (Photo by Olaf Wagner/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
KANCHANABURI, THAILAND - JUNE 1: Thai DNP officers load a tiger on a truck at the Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Tiger Temple on June 1, 2016 in Kanchanaburi province, Thailand. Wildlife authorities in Thailand raided a Buddhist temple in Kanchanaburi province where 137 tigers were kept, following accusations the monks were illegally breeding and trafficking endangered animals. Forty of the 137 tigers were rescued by Tuesday from the country's infamous 'Tiger Temple' despite opposition from the temple authorities. (Photo by Dario Pignatelli/Getty Images)
A Siberian tiger yawns as it lies in the sun in its enclosure at the zoo of Duisburg, northwestern Germany, Monday, April 14, 2014. (AP Photo/dpa, Roland Weihrauch)
A rare Amur Tiger cub, aged four months, plays with its mother Tschuna as it experiences its reserve for the first time at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park near Doncaster, northern England on July 29, 2015. Only around 450 Amur Tigers survive in the wild in their native Russia and Yorkshire Wildlife Park's release of three cubs, named Hector, Harley and Hope, into their reserve coincides with International Tiger Day. AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
A Siberian tiger lies on its back in its enclosure at Berlin's Tierpark zoo on March 27, 2014. AFP PHOTO / JOHN MACDOUGALL (Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)
In this Oct. 20, 2015 photo, illegally trafficked leopard and tiger heads stored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Office of Law Enforcement fill the shelves of a warehouse inside the National Wildlife Property Repository in Commerce City, Colo. The Office of Law Enforcement investigates wildlife crimes, regulates wildlife trade, helps Americans understand and obey wildlife protections laws, and works in partnership with international, state, and tribal counterparts to conserve wildlife resources. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 05: A Sumatran Tiger walks through it's enclosure during the ZSL London Zoo's annual stocktake of animals on January 5, 2015 in London, England. The zoo's annual stocktake requires keepers to check on the numbers of every one of the 800 different animal species, including every invertebrate, bird, fish, mammal, reptile, and amphibian. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
A Sumatran tiger is pictured in its enclosure on June 18, 2012 at the zoo in Frankfurt/M., western Germany. In the wild, the endangered species is endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra. AFP PHOTO / BORIS ROESSLER GERMANY OUT (Photo credit should read BORIS ROESSLER/AFP/GettyImages)
RANTHAMBHORE, INDIA - MARCH 7: A male Bengal tiger lies dead on the outskirts of Ranthambhore National Park, one of the largest and most famous wildlife sanctuary on March 7, 2010 in Rajasthan, India. Two tigers were found dead on the outskirts of the Ranthambhore National Park in March. The local villagers who were upset over the killing of their livestock by the tigers allegedly poisoned them. Forest officials found carcasses of two goats from the place where the dead cubs were found. A forest official said: 'It appears that the tigers ate the goats that were set as bait and got poisoned.' The cubs had strayed from the park in January and had been roaming in the outskirts since. (Photo by Aditya Singh/Barcroft India / Getty Images)
RANTHAMBORE, INDIA - UNDATED: ***EXCLUSIVE*** A tiger photographed in Ranthambore National Park in Rajashthan, India. Zoological Society of London is helping to save the big Indian cats whose numbers are dwindling drastically. It has developed a tracking system that will provide patrolling protocols, recording wildlife crimes and ecological monitoring. The software, known as M-STRIPES, will use a general packet radio service (GPRS) device to follow the movement of the tigers, which will be fitted with radio collars. The country's endangered population has plummeted to just 1350, just over a third of the 3700 estimated to be alive in 2002. (Photo by Aditya Singh / Barcroft India / Getty Images)
RANTHAMBORE, INDIA - UNDATED: ***EXCLUSIVE*** A tiger photographed in Ranthambore National Park in Rajashthan, India. Zoological Society of London is helping to save the big Indian cats whose numbers are dwindling drastically. It has developed a tracking system that will provide patrolling protocols, recording wildlife crimes and ecological monitoring. The software, known as M-STRIPES, will use a general packet radio service (GPRS) device to follow the movement of the tigers, which will be fitted with radio collars. The country's endangered population has plummeted to just 1350, just over a third of the 3700 estimated to be alive in 2002. (Photo by Aditya Singh / Barcroft India / Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

It's crucial that you don't just admire the beauty of tigers. Conservation organizations are tirelessly working to tackle the biggest problems facing tigers, like disappearing habitats and violent poaching — and they could use your help.

Check out these six organizations for more information and resources on tiger conservation, or to donate to their efforts.

  • Panthera: Panthera has been working on tiger conservation in key sites across Asia for the past decade, confronting poaching and preserving the big cats' natural habitats. Through the Tigers Forever program and influential partnerships, the organization hopes to increase tiger numbers at least 50 percent over a 10-year period by training conservation patrols and investigative teams on the ground.

  • Big Cat Rescue: Big Cat Rescue is one of the largest big cat sanctuaries in the world, dedicated to caring for abused and abandoned tigers. The organization also tackles the systemic root of the issue, advocating for an end to the private possession and trade of tigers through legislation and education.

  • World Wildlife Fund: WWF's Save Tigers Now campaign, launched in collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio, works to build political, financial and public support for tiger conservation. The goal of the campaign is to double the number of wild tigers by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger in Chinese culture. The organization also works on habitat conservation, monitoring tigers and their prey, and helping to eliminate poaching and the illicit trade.

  • Wildlife Conservation Society: WCS works to support the growth of tiger populations through key strategies, including habitat rehabilitation, reducing human-tiger conflict and promoting research-driven conservation policies. The organization also works in heavy collaboration with local governments, empowering those in the regions where tigers live to play a role in conservation strategies.

  • International Fund for Animal Welfare: IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world, including tigers. Working on both an international and local level, the organization implements safeguards to protect big cat habitats, curbs poaching and advocates for legal protections. IFAW also works to discourage tiger captivity, advocating for captive tigers to be move to reputable sanctuary facilities.

  • Tiger Conservation Fund: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service developed the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund to tackle the needs of these two vulnerable wildlife populations. The initiative is working to restore tiger populations to healthy levels in the wild by fighting poaching, revitalizing habitats, establishing nature reserves, developing local conservation initiatives, curbing human-tiger conflict and raising public awareness.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners