At the World Bank: convincing the world a tiger is priceless

A four week-old orphaned Royal Bengal tiger cub currently under IFAW care in India. © IFAW-WTI/S. BarbaruahIt seems hard to believe that a year has passed since the International Fund for Animal Welfare team was in Russia meeting with delegations from the thirteen countries with wild tiger populations.  The message then was loud and clear then and it is loud and clear now; we can’t save the tiger unless we help train and equip the rangers who protect them.

The St. Petersburg Global Tiger Summit was a historic moment for the tiger conservation community, for wildlife conservation more broadly, and for the future of our planet. 

Yesterday, we gathered at the World Bank’s Headquarters in Washington DC to urge continued momentum, and to reiterate IFAW’s dedication to the vision of doubling the number of wild tigers by the next Year of the Tiger. 

The Tiger Summit represented the first time top political leaders from tiger range states came together to save a species. The commitment of world leaders, including Mr. Zoellick, was, and continues to be, substantial.  But we – all of us at this table, and leaders of the world community at large – are accountable for making sure that the momentum continues, that we find new ways of working together so that the pledges and commitments made at the summit translate into real results on the ground to protect tigers from the critical threats of habitat destruction, poaching, and trade.

The black market trade in tigers and other endangered wildlife in particular is a vicious cycle. The trade of tiger parts stimulates demand, confuses consumers, and creates law enforcement difficulties. Without demand for tiger parts, there would be no market for poaching.

That’s why IFAW takes a holistic approach to ending tiger trade by addressing all of the key links on the trade chain, from poaching to trafficking to consuming. This includes the critical efforts to reduce demand and prevent the trade of tiger parts from all sources.  We do this through awareness campaigns, capacity building of law enforcement and education.

We have concentrated our efforts in Russia, China, India and Bhutan but there are other countries stepping forward to request our help. We heard yesterday that the luxury market is driving new demand for tiger parts and that, in order to protect the tiger; we must convince people that a tiger is worth more alive than dead.  How about we convince people that a live tiger is priceless?

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Experts

Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Gail A'Brunzo, IFAW Wildlife Rescue Manager
Wildlife Rescue Manager, IFAW HQ
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Peter Pueschel, Director, International Environmental Agreements
Director, International Environmental Agreements
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Regional Director, South Asia