Though world wildlife has been more than halved in the last 40 years, several rare species are actually making a comeback, thanks to conservation efforts. Numbers of tigers, pandas, and gorillas are still low, but growing.
Amur tigers were once widespread in both Northern China and in Russia. But years of trophy hunting nearly destroyed the species, and only around 40 amur tigers were left in the wild by the 1940’s.
Since then, the amur tiger has come under protection, and this has caused the numbers to rebound to about 400 in Russia and around 20 in China. Last February, an amur tiger and its two cubs were filmed in a camera trap set up by World Wildlife Federation (WWF). This film finally provided hard evidence that the amur tiger has returned to China.
RAREST BIG CAT BOUNCES BACK
Also the numbers of amur leopards have increased. The amur leopard is a rare subspecies of leopard, and it is considered the world’s rarest big cat. Its numbers have nearly doubled since 2007, a new survey shows. But the numbers of these felines are still tiny: There are now at least 57 amur leopards in the Russian national park Land of the Leopard. In 2007, there were only 30 animals left.
In addition, a further 8-12 amur leopards were registered in neighbouring areas of China.
BETTER TIMES FOR BAMBOO EATERS
While it remains one of the world’s most endangered animals, the numbers of giant pandas have been increasing by 268 individuals over the last decade. There are now 1,864 pandas in the world, according to the latest count by the Chinese government, with support from WWF.
Long-standing threats such as poaching seem to be declining, while mining, hydro power, tourism, and the construction of new infrastructure have begun to exert bigger negative influence on the panda.
GORILLA NUMBERS CLIMBING
Today, there are 880 mountain gorillas left in the wild. About 400 of these live in the Bwindi National Park in Uganda. The mountain gorillas are primarily threatened by deforestation caused by heavily populated areas that continually require more farmland.
In Bwindi, there are on average 1,2 mountain gorillas per square kilometre, which is a stark contrast to the areas outside the national park, where there are up to a thousand people per square kilometre, and where there is a very high demand for arable land.
Thanks to the mountain gorillas, the Bwindi reserve has been declared a protected area, and the woods are now worth more to the local community thanks to income from tourism, rather than the banana plantations that would have taken the place of the nature. Gorilla tourism now brings in a yearly profit of about 67 million euros, and numbers of gorillas have increased by more than 40 percent between 1989 and 2012.
But even though the forest in Bwindi has come under protection, and numbers of gorillas have increased, the animals are not yet safe. The need for farmland, firewood, and lumber are the biggest threats to the big apes. When forests are cut down, it becomes more difficult for the gorillas to find food. WWF works to preserve the places where threatened animals live, and uphold the laws that are to protect a wide range of the world’s animals and plants, while the local people also get better rights and living conditions.