Tigers may be relegated to zoos in the future if we're not careful. Only about 3,200 tigers can be found in the wild today—a far cry from the iconic cat's situation a century ago, when 100,000 tigers roamed vast stretches of the Asian continent.
"People don't realize how dire the situation is for tigers because we see them all the time. We see them in zoos, we see them in circuses, so we think they're doing all right," said Sharon Guynup, a writer who co-authored the book Tigers Forever: Saving the World's Most Endangered Big Cat with National Geographic photographer Steve Winter.
But there is some good news. On Wednesday, Bhutan announced that it has 103 tigers, up from a previous estimate of 75. And earlier this year, India released a census counting 2,226 tigers, compared to 1,706 in 2010.
To mark International Tiger Day—which is held annually on July 29—National Geographic spotlights Asia's largest cat species and the conservation challenges that it faces.
In this photo, a tiger is carried by Burmese villagers in 1922 after it was killed following an attack on their village.
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