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spacerThe majestic tiger has few places left to hide. Once it roamed free in vast mangrove forests that have been almost completely destroyed by humans. Poachers get a high price for tiger skins and other body parts used in traditional medicine.

Today, there are only about 7,000 tigers left in the wild, down from more than 100,000 a century ago.

Animals like the tiger need large territories to survive. Two United Nations-backed projects are helping countries to protect and manage the remaining natural forests that are home to endangered species. At the same time, these conservation projects provide local communities that depend on forest resources with alternative livelihoods.

Straddling India and Bangladesh, the Sundarbans is one of the world’s last great coastal wetland ecosystems, covering some 10,000 square kilometers of mangrove forest. In recognition of their unique flora and fauna, parts of the Sundarbans in both countries have been declared World Heritage Sites.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is working with India and Bangladesh on a partnership project to conserve the biodiversity of the Sundarbans mangrove swamps where tigers still roam. The project will help extremely poor people living near the sites to develop other livelihoods such as tourism. "We want to reduce the dependence of local people on the forest," says Arin Ghosh, who looks after forests in India's West Bengal province.

Protected areas are becoming more isolated from other natural habitats making it hard to preserve their biodiversity. One solution is to connect protected areas with other forests and sanctuaries by regenerating the corridor links between them. This means helping people who live in the corridors to become less dependent on forest resources for their livelihood.

With funds from the United Nations Foundation and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), UNDP is implementing a project to conserve and rehabilitate the only forest corridor linking the Royal Chitwan National Park, a World Heritage Site in Nepal, to the upland Himalayan forest ranges—home to tigers and other endangered species. Local families will be trained in alternative livelihoods and villagers will receive incentives to promote wildlife guardianship and habitat preservation.

Tigers, other animals and rare plants are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).  The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) administers the treaty, which bans international trade in tigers and tiger parts.  Countries use CITES to strengthen their national efforts to prevent the killing of, or trade in, all endangered animals and plants, and to apprehend poachers and smugglers.

FIND OUT MORE about how the UN works to promote biodiversity and protect endangered species. Go the links next to the tiger.


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