Scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) are working to save tigers from extinction and double their numbers in the wild by 2022. They support efforts to stop poaching, to stop trafficking, to reduce human-tiger conflict, to improve management practices in tiger habitats, and to protect Asian forests where tigers live.
SCBI has been studying tigers for decades to understand their behavioral ecology and the most effective ways to protect them. Its efforts started in 1972 with the Smithsonian-Nepal Tiger Ecology Project. In the 1990s scientists began approaching tiger conservation as a complex problem stretching across borders, requiring the cooperation of many partners.
At the Tiger Summit in St. Petersburg Russia in 2010, leaders of 13 tiger-range countries met with international science and conservation experts, including scientists from SCBI. They set out to do what had never been done before: create a comprehensive strategy to save tigers. At the meeting, they adopted a Global Tiger Recovery Program based on the National Tiger Recovery Priorities of each of the tiger-range countries.
As a member of the Global Tiger Initiative (GTI), SCBI scientists work with policy makers and practitioners across Asia and around the world to save tigers. Since 2010, they have held training courses and workshops for frontline practitioners in Asian forests. The training courses focus on teaching them how secure tigers and their habitats against emerging threats using the latest tools and technology. The topics for the workshops and training courses address human-tiger conflict management, interagency cooperation, and the use of Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART). SMART patrols, using GPS and GIS software, create detailed maps of all the security threats in tiger ranges, helping managers prioritize where they need to intervene to save tigers. SMART patrol training courses have been held in Thailand, Nepal, Indonesia and Malaysia.