Tiger camouflaged in tall grass, Assam, India
© Sandesh Kadur/Minden Picture
Hiding in plain sight
Today we're in Assam, India, to celebrate World Tiger Day, a relatively new event established in 2010 at a summit designed to spur conservation efforts. Hundreds of thousands of tigers once roamed a broad territory across Asia, eastern Russia and various islands of the Indian Ocean. Over the past century, however, hunting and habitat loss have reduced their range and populations by more than 90%.
Today, the World Wildlife Fund estimates there are fewer than 4,000 tigers remaining outside captivity. While the numbers have stabilised a bit recently, these solitary animals are still gravely endangered. India is home to the largest number of wild tigers in the world. The massive cats have always played an important cultural role here and the Indian government has set up more than 50 tiger reserves across the country, with more to come. But the mighty cat still faces many dangers including poaching, often fuelled by the illegal trade for tiger parts used in traditional medicines.