Saving Tigers: Tiger Conservation Forum in Russia
“The global population of tigers has plummeted to dangerous levels”, perhaps just over 3,000 remain in the wild. Unless conservation action is taken, the only tigers that will survive will be in zoos, in captivity. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio both attended the International Tiger Forum in St. Petersburg, Russia in November. DiCaprio donated $1 million at the Forum and Putin has taken a personal interest in tiger conservation.
Prime Minister Putin stated, “The tiger is on the brink of catastrophe. Look at the numbers, tiger habitat is only currently 7% of what they used to be. The situation is sad and I dare say tragic.” The World Bank, criticized for funding projects that destroyed wildlife habitat, used the Forum to announce a policy shift. The World Bank will no longer finance infrastructure like roads in “core tiger areas”. Robert Zoellick, World Bank President, said, “I hope the key difference here will be that the tiger range country is in the driver’s seat.”
Tiger poaching remains a problem and threat. An estimated 150 tiger skins are traded every year and tiger body parts are still in “huge demand” in traditional medicine across Asia, especially China. Barney Long, WWF Tiger Program Director, noted China is a “major issue that needs to be addressed” but the problem is worldwide. He continues that anti-trafficking efforts and “demand reduction is the real long-term solution”. Movie star Jackie Chan has done public announcements in Asia to attempt to reduce demand in tiger trafficking.
The International Tiger Forum announced a goal to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022.
(CNN) Matthew Chance reports from the tiger conservation summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.