The number of tigers in Asia could be nearly tripled if all the countries that support the population would be treated as large scale landscapes, a study by some of the world's leading conservation scientists said.
Conservation of wildlife, particularly tigers, has been highlighted in the past few years as the number of tigers have drastically dropped in only a few thousand.
The latest study indicates that the number of tigers could nearly be tripled if there is a concerted global effort to ensure that core breeding reserves are maintained and connected through habitat corridors.
Several countries in Asia and Europe have signed agreements in 2010 to ensure more such connectivity occurs.
Russia and China signed an agreement in November 2010 with several other Asian countries to double the number of tigers by 2022. About $350 million is expected to be spent over the next five years on the program, according to World Bank and WWF.
The two countries also agreed to create the first cross-border tiger conservation reserve for the Siberian tiger along the borders.
According to WWF estimates, there are only about 500 Siberian tigers left in the world.
The authors of the report found that the 20 priority tiger conservation landscapes with the highest probability of long-term tiger survival could support more than 10,500 tigers, including about 3,400 breeding females.
Interconnecting parks help in keeping these forests replenished with livestock and also help the tigers in moving around.
Poaching, however, continues to be a major hurdle in conservation of the tiger.
Tigers disappeared from Sariska and Panna tiger reserves in 2005 and 2009 due to poaching and were not able to re-colonize because these reserves are not connected to other reserves through habitat corridors, the report said.
Consequently, wild tigers had to be translocated into these reserves to attempt to re-establish populations, it added.
Poachers are growing bolder, despite stringent animal protection laws. A woman was caught at the Bangkok airport in 2010 while trying to smuggle a baby tiger disguised as a stuffed toy.
Countries like China have capital punishment for the offence of poaching, yet the rewards continue to be high for the poachers to desist.
Traditional medicine in China use many tiger parts, including bones. Though the use of tiger bones was removed from the traditional Chinese pharmacopeia in 1993, and a domestic ban on tiger trade was implemented, illegal trade persists in many regions.
The WWF report states that involvement from governments and conservationists is crucial to design infrastructure projects, which could hurt conservation.
The report cited the recent example of an oil depot built near India's Terai Arc that severed an important elephant and tiger corridor, and said it could've been avoided with better planning and cooperation.