There are 40% more tigers in the wild than previously thought, with as many as 5,578 around, though they remain an endangered species, according to a leading conservationist group.
The jump in numbers was due to improved monitoring, with the population thought to be stable or increasing, said the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Habitat protection projects showed that “recovery is possible”.
There are thought to be between 3,726 and 5,578 wild tigers – 40% more than at the last assessment in 2015.
While the tiger remained endangered, the population trend indicated that projects such as the IUCN’s integrated tiger habitat conservation programme “are succeeding and recovery is possible as long as conservation efforts continue”, the organisation said.
Major threats included poaching of tigers themselves, poaching and hunting of their prey, and habitat destruction due to agriculture and human settlement.
“Expanding and connecting protected areas, ensuring they are effectively managed, and working with local communities living in and around tiger habitats, are critical to protect the species,” the IUCN said.
The World Wildlife Fund also says that wild tiger numbers have started to recover after a century of decline in the main habitats of India, Nepal, Bhutan, Russia and China.
The reassessment of tiger numbers came as the IUCN updated its “red list” of threatened species – the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of plants, animals and fungi, assessing their risk of extinction.
The migratory monarch butterfly is now classified as an endangered species on the red list due to climate change and habitat destruction.
And all surviving sturgeon species are now at risk of extinction due to dams and poaching.
“Today’s red list update highlights the fragility of nature’s wonders, such as the unique spectacle of monarch butterflies migrating across thousands of kilometres,” said the IUCN director general, Bruno Oberle.
“To preserve the rich diversity of nature we need effective, fairly governed, protected and conserved areas, alongside decisive action to tackle climate change and restore ecosystems.”
The list assigns species to one of eight categories of threat. A total of 147,517 were assessed in the latest version, with 41,459 species deemed as being threatened with extinction.
Of those, 9,065 are critically endangered, 16,094 are endangered and 16,300 are deemed vulnerable.
Established in 1964, the list counts 902 species that are now extinct, and 82 which are extinct in the wild.
The migratory monarch butterfly, a monarch subspecies, is well known for its migrations from Mexico and California to summer breeding grounds throughout the United States and Canada. The native population had shrunk by between 22% and 72% over the past decade, the IUCN said, with logging and deforestation having destroyed substantial areas of their winter shelter.
Meanwhile, pesticides and herbicides used in intensive agriculture killed butterflies and milkweed – the host plant their larvae feed on.
Climate change was also a fast-growing threat, with drought, wildfires, extreme temperatures and severe weather having a significant impact.
“It is difficult to watch monarch butterflies and their extraordinary migration teeter on the edge of collapse, but there are signs of hope,” said Anna Walker, who led the assessment of monarchs.
“From planting native milkweed and reducing pesticide use to supporting the protection of overwintering sites and contributing to community science, we all have a role to play in making sure this iconic insect makes a full recovery.”
The western population was at greatest risk of extinction, the IUCN said, having declined by an estimated 99.9%, from as many as 10m to 1,914 butterflies between the 1980s and 2021.
The larger eastern population also shrank by 84% between 1996 to 2014.
“Concern remains as to whether enough butterflies survive to maintain the populations and prevent extinction,” the IUCN said.
The global sturgeon reassessment found that all remaining 26 sturgeon species were now at risk of extinction, up from 85% in 2009.
Their decline over the past three generations was steeper than previously thought.
The Yangtze sturgeon has moved from critically endangered to extinct in the wild, while 17 species are now critically endangered.
The reassessment confirmed the extinction of the Chinese paddlefish.
“Sturgeons have been overfished for their meat and caviar for centuries,” the IUCN said.
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