On Leading the IFAW Delegation to Putin’s Tiger Summit
Here we are, it’s the Year of the Tiger on the Chinese Lunar Calendar and there are less than 50 wild tigers left in that beautiful country – the birthplace of the tiger species. Human activities—habitat destruction, poaching and wildlife trade—are to blame. Tiger populations are down 97% from a century ago.
This November, world leaders from around the globe, including myself and other IFAW experts are gathering for a global tiger summit St. Petersburg, Russia to hammer out a coordinated global plan for saving tigers from extinction.
This isn’t just another policy conference. Hosted by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, heads of state from some 13 tiger range countries are sitting down together for the first time to agree on a global plan in support of a single, critically-endangered species. By adopting the Global Tiger Recovery Programme (GTRP), these governments will declare their shared commitment to the ambitious goal of doubling the wild tiger population over the next 12 years.This is good news.
That said, tigers don’t stand a chance if declarations and plans don’t translate into real protection on the ground for tigers. Each tiger range country has its own specific issues, and each will have to create specific solutions to their specific problems. But they’re going to need help and collaboration to tackle the single-greatest threat to tiger survival: poaching fueled by illegal trade in tiger body parts.
It’s time for a pragmatic and targeted approach that steps up support for those working on the front lines of tiger protection to crack down on poaching and enforce bans on tiger trade. That’s why we’ve been working with the Indian government to train more than 7,000 rangers - a third of the anti-poaching force working in India’s protect tiger habitat. It’s why we helped a small but resourcesful anti-poaching brigade solve the problem of watching over a vast reserve in the Russian Far East by providing them with a motorized glider to patrol the forests by air. And why we funded the first wildlife enforcement officer position at Interpol, the global crime-fighting team working to crack down on trafficking in tigers.
This summit may be our last chance to turn talk into action for tigers. If we can’t protect the last of this truly breathtaking species, how can we protect ourselves in the future?
For more information on IFAW efforts to save the last of the world’s tigers, visit http://ifaw.org/tigers
PS: Keep an eye on http://IFAW.org/LIVE for video interviews by IFAW staff from the Tiger Summit.