World leaders seek to save the tiger from extinction

Nov 21, 2010 by Olga Nedbayeva
A tiger is pictured in his enclosure at the Moscow Zoo. In a meeting billed as the final political chance to secure the future of the tiger, Russia hosts an unprecedented summit of the last 13 states with populations of the fabled beast.

The tiger's losing struggle against extinction received a boost Sunday from an unprecedented 13-state summit that aims to double the big cat's population by the next Year of the Tiger in 2022.

Russian prime minister and self-proclaimed animal lover Vladimir Putin opened his native city to the world's first gathering of leaders from nations where the tiger's free rein has been squeezed ever-tighter by poachers.

"This is an unprecedented gathering of world leaders (that aims) to double the number of tigers," Jim Adams, Vice President for the East Asia and Pacific Region at the World Bank, said at the opening ceremony of the four-day event.

"The global initiative is an example of balanced economic development with nature preservation."

Decades of tiger part trafficking and have slashed the roaming tiger's number from 100,000 a century ago to just 3,200 today, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

The wildlife charity warns that the tiger could become extinct within the next 12 years unless urgent action is taken.

"It's essential to eliminate poaching," said Adams. "Solutions must begin at the local level. Trans-boundary cooperation must be reinforced."

Graphic on the world's wild tiger populations. Russia hosts a summit of the last 13 states that hold tiger populations.

The summit's Russian hosts said that a global initiative on tigers could provide lessons for other joint environmental pursuits.

The tiger summit will provide an example "for other challenges such as global warming," Russian Natural Resources Minister Yury Trutnev told the gathering.

The high-rpofile summit is due to be attended by Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and delegations from India and Bangladesh -- the three nations with the largest volume of tiger skin and other organ trafficking.

Russia is the only country to have seen its rise in recent years. It had just 80 to 100 in the 1960s but now has around 500, with experts praising Putin for taking an active role in the cause.

Putin has personally championed the protection of the Amur Tiger in the country's Far East and was hailed by the Russian media for firing a tranquillizer dart at one of the fabled beasts in 2008.

The conference is expected to tackle the burden of funding a 12-year plan that reaches across the 13 nations. It is also believed to be the world's first gathering of leaders to address the fate of a single species.

But consensus on the need to save the tiger has been hampered by a lack of coordination on the ground to stop the trafficking of tiger parts such as paws and bones -- all prized in traditional Asian medicine.

"Countries cannot fight the tiger trade individually because of the very nature of the trade," said Sabri Zain of the TRAFFIC wildlife trade monitoring network.

"Tiger parts come from one country, are processed in another and consumed in a third," Zain told AFP.

Apart from Russia, 12 other countries host fragile tiger populations -- Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam.

But experts stress that India and China are by far the biggest players in saving the beast.

India is home to half of the world population while the Chinese remain the world's biggest consumers of tiger products despite global bans.

"In China, things are going from bad to worse," said Alexei Vaisman of the WWF. "But it is hard for the Chinese authorities, who are fighting against a millennium-old tradition."

Explore further: Endangered species success: Idaho salmon regaining fitness advantage

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tigers could be extinct within 12 years: WWF

Oct 21, 2010

Tigers could become extinct within 12 years but a top level meeting in Russia next month could help reverse the decline, nature conservation body WWF said on Thursday.

Viable tiger populations, tiger trade incompatible

Jun 05, 2007

In the cover story of this month’s BioScience journal, leading tiger experts warn that if tigers are to survive, governments must stop all trade in tiger products from wild and captive-bred sources, as well as ramp up eff ...

Decline in Russian tigers renews calls to end all trade

Oct 19, 2009

A shocking decline in the Russian Federation's wild tiger population highlights the importance of eliminating trade in and demand for tiger parts, the International Tiger Coalition (ITC) said today. The alliance of 40 organizations ...

Nepal expands critical tiger habitat

Oct 27, 2009

The Government of Nepal announced today an expansion of Bardia National Park in the Terai Arc Landscape by 900 sq km, which will increase critical habitat for tigers.

13 countries craft plan to save tigers

Jan 29, 2010

(AP) -- More than a dozen Asian nations aim to double the numbers of wild tigers by 2022 and prohibit the building of roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects that could harm their habitats.

World Bank wants tiger farms shut

Jan 28, 2010

(AP) -- China and other Asian nations should shut privately run tiger farms as they are inhumane and fuel demand for the endangered big cat's bones and skin, the World Bank said Thursday.

Recommended for you

Warming world may spell bad news for honey bees

15 hours ago

Researchers have found that the spread of an exotic honey bee parasite -now found worldwide - is linked not only to its superior competitive ability, but also to climate, according to a new study published ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

JamesThomas
not rated yet Nov 21, 2010
How sad, only 3,000 cats left. I wish them all the luck in the world to bring this beautiful animal back from the brink of extinction. Russia's success gives us some hope.
Roland
not rated yet Nov 21, 2010
The problem is poaching, same as with Rhinos and Elephants, and the buyers are almost entirely Chinese. Education may make them less superstitious, but traditions run deep. Bottom line: avoid buying Made In China!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.