Thirteen countries pledge to repopulate world’s wild tigers

As we head into the Chinese Year of the Tiger (starting on February 14), here’s a bit of encouraging news: All 13 tiger-range countries have pledged to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger.

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NGS stock photo by Michael Nichols

Populations of wild tigers have declined to only 3,200 worldwide, according to the latest estimates by the conservation charity World Wildlife Fund (WWF). That’s down from 100,000 a century ago.

Habitat destruction and poaching of the big cats for ingredients for traditional medicine and for curios like rugs are the chief causes of the crash.

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NGS stock photo by Michael Nichols

Representatives of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam, meeting in Hua Hin, Thailand last week, committed to try harder to reverse the continuing decline in tigers in the wild.

International organizations and donor institutions also attending the meeting included the World Bank, Global Tiger Initiative, WWF, Save the Tiger Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society, USAID, FREELAND, and TRAFFIC.

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NGS stock photo by Michael Nichols

“We shall reach up to the highest levels of our governments for support at the Year of the Tiger Heads of State Summit in Russia. Let us join together boldly to save the wild tiger,” WWF reported Thailand’s Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Suwit Khunkitti, said in Hua Hin, at the First Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation.

The heads of states summit to discuss tiger conservation will be held in Vladivostok in September. An international donor conference is also planned later this year to support tiger range countries to raise additional resources to save wild tigers from extinction.

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NGS stock photo by Michael Nichols

President of the World Bank Group Robert B. Zoellick, who launched the Global Tiger Initiative (GTI) in June 2008 together with the Smithsonian Institution, Global Environment Facility, and other partners, delivered a video message to the delegations in Hua Hin, promising support for the range countries’ efforts and to spearhead sustainable development in Asia. “The World Bank stands ready to support regional projects in the tiger range countries and to mobilize the donor community and develop innovative financial instruments to support tiger conservation funds,” he said.

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NGS stock photo by Michael Nichols

Michael Baltzer, Leader of WWF’s Tiger Initiative, said: “We are delighted to see a ray of hope for the tiger as represented by the tiger range countries’ commitment to work together to double wild tiger numbers by 2022. We look forward to seeing their pledges turn into firm actions in Vladivostok.”

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NGS stock photo by Michael Nichols

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Forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. He has 120,000 followers on social media. David Braun edits the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. Follow David on Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn