Since about 1990, we’ve witnessed a 95 percent reduction in tiger habitats and numbers. Despite our best efforts for 20 years at conservation, every single species of tiger is now on the critically-endangered species list. Three sub-species have become extinct in the last 60 years and we average another extinct sub-species every 20 years.
In 1990, there were documented to be about 100,000 tigers in the wild. This figure has dropped 96.8% in the past two decades to about 3,200.
Though as previous answerers have said, 1990 witnessed the beginning of the most rapid decline, 95%, the decline in tiger population actually began far before then, about 50 years ago. In the 1970s, the tiger population dropped to 4,000 from 100,000 in the early 1900s (1). The tiger was named an endangered species in 1969. So the sharpest decline did occur in 1990, but a fairly rapid decline was seen before then.
The tiger population of India actually experienced a growth in the 1990s, due to conservation and breeding efforts in tiger reserves after only 1,200 wild tigers were found in 1973. This program raised the number of tigers to 3,500 in the 1990s. However, the tiger population declined again to 1,411 in India in 2007.
Worldwide, the population of tigers has decreased by 95% over the last century. The global population of tigers is now estimated to be between 3,400 and 5,000.
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