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Countries Meeting to Save Last Wild Tigers Must Do More Than Growl, Activists Urge

Tiger range countries meeting next week in St. Petersburg, Russia, for the International Tiger Conservation Forum hosted by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, have been urged by conservation activists to “act decisively now or face a future in which the wild tiger is extinct.”

The UK-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) said: “It as an opportunity to commit to an unprecedented global pledge to save wild tigers, now numbering as few 3,200–but the time for toothless if well-intentioned declarations is long gone.”

EIA Campaigner Alasdair Cameron Talks about the International Tiger Forum from EIA on Vimeo.

“Tigers desperately need a zero-tolerance approach to the illegal trade, in all parts and derivatives, from all sources, and St. Petersburg represents a great moment to finally make progress, to halt and reverse the decline of this magnificent creature.” said Debbie Banks, EIA Head of Tiger Campaign.

Tiger Conservation Forum logo.jpg

“The remaining wild tigers are on the brink–they simply don’t have time to wait as the world again wrings it collective hands but does nothing concrete at the end of it,” Banks said in a statement released by EIA.

“For many years, EIA has been at the forefront of efforts to expose the international trafficking routes and extensive criminal trade in tiger skins, bones and derivatives such as tiger bone wine ‘tonics’. Skins are sought by the military and the rich for home décor and bribery, while products such as bone are used in traditional Asian
medicines,” EIA’s statement added.

The video below is about EIA’s work to expose the illegal trade in tiger skins, parts and derivatives.

EIA Tiger Campaign from EIA on Vimeo.

Drawing on its expertise in investigating the trade, EIA will be releasing a special report during the forum which outlines key recommendations for action if the world’s last wild tigers are to be kept from extinction. “The necessary reduction in tiger trade can be achieved by a combination of effective law enforcement, aggressive demand reduction strategies to reduce the consumption of tiger parts, and judicial reform,” the conservation group said.

“EIA believes these actions will be a test of parties’ commitment to saving the wild tiger,” Banks said.

EIA is calling on tiger range countries to use the tools already at their disposal, such as the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL).

The Role of INTERPOL

“INTERPOL provides tiger range countries with a secure means of sharing and analysing intelligence and could be a crucial link in tackling the criminals behind the wildlife trade.

“INTERPOL’s commitment to taking a lead role … is a great first step and now governments need to invest in ensuring that at the very least one police investigator is assigned to INTERPOL National Central Bureaus full-time, so creating wildlife desks.”

According to EIA, current estimates suggest as few as 3,200 wild tigers left worldwide, with about 1,411 in India. Three subspecies of tiger have become extinct in the past 100 years.

China is the main destination for illegally poached Asian big cat parts, although there is still demand in other countries from which products are then exported, EIA said.

“The long-term goal of EIA’s campaign is that Asian big cat populations recover from the current status and the global wild tiger population rises to 5,000 by 2020,” the charity said.

Posted by David Braun from media materials submitted by the Environmental Investigation Agency.

Disclaimer: Many blog posts and comments published on Nat Geo News Watch have been independently written by members of the National Geographic community. The views of guest bloggers and comments on those blogs published on Nat Geo News Watch are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Geographic Society. National Geographic editors reserve the right to edit guest blogs and edit or delete any and all comments received.

More About Tigers From Nat Geo News Watch

A Thousand Tigers Dismembered for Skin-and-bones Trade
Parts of at least 1,069 tigers have been seized in tiger range countries over the past decade, according to an analysis of tiger seizures released today by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network.

America’s 5,000 Backyard Tigers a ‘Ticking Time Bomb’
With more tigers in captivity in the U.S. than survive in the wild, the United States needs a centralized federal database to monitor the big cats, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says.

World Tiger Day 2010
Joseph Smith, Tiger Program Director for Panthera, a charity dedicated to restoration and conservation of the world’s 36 species of wild cats, answers questions about the challenges facing tigers.

A Last Stand for Tigers?
With the number of wild tigers at an all-time low, a study warns that unless conservation managers redouble funds and efforts to protect tigers in the few places they can still thrive, we may lose the world’s largest cat.

China and Russia Declare International Sanctuary for Siberian Tigers
Jilin province of China and neighboring Primorsky province in Russia have agreed to collaborate formally in working towards the first transboundary Amur tiger protected area.

World’s Largest Tiger Reserve Designated in Myanmar
A region the size of the U.S. state of Vermont has been earmarked by Myanmar as a sanctuary for the tiger, one of the most endangered animals on the planet. But can the poaching of the big cats and their prey be stopped?

World Bank Invests in Tiger’s Future
World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick unveiled Vanishing Icons–a new National Geographic exhibition of photographs of tigers, lions, and other big cats–at the bank’s Washington, D.C. headquarters.

Read more about the plight of tigers and other big cats and what concerned people across the world are doing to help them on the National Geographic Big Cats Initiative website.   

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