Tiger summit opens with call for action from world's children

Monday, November 22, 2010
St. Petersburg, Russia
As government officials from 13 tiger range states filed into a historic palace in St. Petersburg, Russia today to begin three days of high-level discussions on a global plan to save tigers, they were greeted by video messages from the world’s children that were recorded in more than 15 countries over the past six months by IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare - www.ifaw.org).

In whispers, shouts, roars and emotional pleas broadcast on a large video screen, children from tiger range countries in Asia, including Russia, India, China and Indonesia, were joined by youngsters from the Americas, Europe, Africa and the Middle East in calling on participants in the International Tiger Forum to take a stand, make a commitment and “Save the tigers!”

“It is humbling to listen to these kids, speaking in different languages and saying their own unique things about tigers. But, at the same time, all these kids speak in one voice, with one message when you put them all together,” said IFAW Vice-President Azzedine Downes from the Tiger Forum. “If our kids grow up in a world without tigers, what does that say about us?”

The video messages are moving and insightful. The message from one Australian child: “When you break a part of nature, you break a part of you,” was a theme echoed in the opening statements of governments at the Forum.

“People must realize that if animals remain in the forest habitat, then this ecosystem will remain intact,” said Nepal’s forestry minister, Deepak Bohara at a press briefing after his summit speech. “It’s not just the tigers that benefit from strong conservation programmes but also the people living side-by-side with the tigers.”

On Tuesday, heads of state will join Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for a high-level session of the Forum, where the range state governments are expected to endorse the Global Tiger Recovery Programme (GTRP) and a ministerial declaration with the ambitious goal of doubling the wild tiger population over the next 12 years.

The GTRP will be backed by national action plans and joint commitments to better conserve key tiger habitat across range countries, eradicate poaching and end trafficking in tiger body parts.

The Roar! Global Youth Voices video was filmed by IFAW as a special project for presentation at the summit and as part of the annual IFAW Animal Action international education programme, which reaches some 5,000,000 people worldwide each year.

On the day of the high-level session, IFAW will formally present its education programmes and the Youth Voices video at a summit round table session on best practices in public awareness campaigns on tigers and the threats they face.

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