Wild tiger Panthera tigris populations have reduced to < 3600 and occupy a mere 7% of their historic range. Recognizing this decline, heads of the 13 range countries convened at the Tiger Summit in 2010 and set an aspirational goal of doubling the population of wild tigers by the year 2022. While large-scale initiatives such as this are among the most effective responses to guide conservation investment, they do not identify targets and actions for site-level conservation. Therefore in this study, we estimate the spatially explicit densities of an assemblage of wild ungulates across a landscape of multiple-uses to evaluate landscape-wide conditions for tigers and identify opportunities for recovery, consistent with global conservation targets.
In this study we carry out one such exercise where we estimate densities of 6 ungulate prey species across a landscape managed under 3 land management categories to predict potential carrying capacities for tigers. Our results indicate that the western TAL that currently supports 2 (2–7) and 225 (199–256) tigers across two fragmented sections of the landscape is capable of supporting 82 (62–106) and 299 (225–377) tigers, representing a c. 68% increase to the existing population. Based on our findings we recommend that this systematic approach of setting realistic population targets and prioritizing spatially explicit recovery strategies should aid in developing effective landscape conservation plans towards achieving global tiger conservation targets and should ideally precede pledging investments to recover tiger populations.