Russia and twelve Asian nations have produced a historic conservation plan to double the number of tigers by the year 2020. Representatives from the thirteen nations with wild tiger populations came together in Hua Hin, Thailand last Friday to guarantee the tiger’s steady recovery. It also happens to be the Year of the Tiger according to the Chinese Calender (Chinese New Year is February 14th).
According to the WWF (World Wildlife Fund), time is running out to save wild tigers. Human encroachment and a poaching epidemic have wiped out the majority of the tiger population from an estimated 100,000 wild tigers a century ago to the 3,500 that remain today. The organs and bones of tigers are still being used in traditional Chinese holistic medicine, despite the animals being protected by national and international laws prohibiting the trade.
As of yet, no new money to finance efforts to save the tiger has been collected. However, plans to speak to institutions like the World Bank and to use partial funds from ecotourism, carbon financing and infrastructure projects to help back the tiger programs is being considered.
Program Director for the World Bank’s Global Tiger Initiative, Keshav Varma, stated, "You know if you save the tiger, you are saving the habitat for a lot of other species. So the tiger is symbolic about this and as the apex and the most charismatic species, it is drawing attention to the habitat and to the prey base, to encroachment, to corruption, to so many issues."
The declaration will await its final approval by heads of state in September. Learn more about how you can help protect the future of wild tigers at savethetigerfund.org.
2010 seems to be the Year of the Yiger indeed.