Russia is Ensuring That Tiger Cubs Like This One Have a Bright Future. Here’s How!

In the wilderness of Siberia and the Russian Far East, there lingers an endangered species of predator: the Siberian tiger. Between 480 and 540 remain, according to a recent census. Believe it or not, that’s actually good news; in the last census of 2005, those numbers were even lower.

Disturbing and uplifting at the same time.

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So what’s boosted the tiger population? Why, Russia, itself! More specifically, stricter laws forbidding poaching and illegal trade, a better economy, and…wait for it… “Tiger Guardians!” National Geographic‘s title for these conservationists and park rangers makes me think of Guardians of the Galaxy, but instead of protecting a dark sea of stars, these guys safeguard tigers by chasing down those who threaten them.

Of course, “Tiger Guardians” and laws won’t stop poachers from trying. As Pavel Fomenko, the Program Coordinator of Russia’s WWF branch says in the video, it’s “a civil war.” On one side, there’s the government trying to protect the big cats. On the other side, there are Russian hunters who, trying to provide for their families, could be lured into the illegal world of poaching by the Chinese market’s demand for tiger parts. (This is why a strong economy boosts the tiger population.)

Poaching aside, people still pose a danger to the tigers by illegally logging and destroying their habitat. Chopping down trees reduces territory and prey availability, and can have a drastic effect on the population.

So the tigers aren’t out of the woods yet (figuratively speaking). Thanks to the new census, however, officials and nonprofits can pinpoint where tiger populations are scarce. They can then take action wherever—and however—needed.

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Like Siberian tigers, Indonesia’s Sumatran tigers face endangerment due to poaching and illegal logging. If this doesn’t stop, they could be the first large predator of the 21st century to go extinct. International Tiger Day is July 29, so what better time to stand up for these incredible cats? Tell Indonesia’s Nature Conservancy Agency to implement laws that will protect Sumatran tigers!

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