Friday, November 26, 2010

Save the Tiger: good news from international summit in Russia

When reporting on conservation issues, it's easy to become overwhelmed with all of the challenges and problems threatening so many species across the planet. So, when there is good news - particularly coming from an international consortium when so many of these groups have failed, wallowing in backroom politics - it can be quite an uplift for the soul.

In October, I reported on a meeting to be held this month on behalf of the tiger. Thirteen countries, within whose borders the dwindling number of tigers can be found, came together in St. Petersburg, Russia to discuss the fate of the tiger and what can be done. The end result was a declaration to double the number of tigers in the wild (currently at a shocking 3,200) by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger on the Chinese calendar.

The participating countries have agreed to lay out a strategy and set up the infrastructure necessary to address reduced habitat, protect migration routes, and eliminate poaching through enforcement and incentives to provide potential poachers with economic alternatives. All of this can amount to empty promises if the funding is not there to support it. And that proved to be another bit of good news.

The Wildlife Conservation Society, along with several other groups, have collectively pledged $50 million over 10 years, and the World Bank has pledged a similar amount in addition to promising to procure additional funding from other governments and corporations. And for those of you who cynically question the pro-conservation efforts of celebrities as nothing more than riding a trend for some extra attention, take note of the level of commitment from Leonardo DiCaprio. The popular actor, who has been involved in a variety of conservation and environmental causes, arrived in St. Petersburg to put his money where his mouth is, donating $1 million to this new effort to save the tiger.

As reported in the BBC News,
"'There was clearly a loud roar from St Petersburg this week on behalf of the last remaining tigers on our planet,' commented John Robinson, chief conservation officer with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). 'World leaders rarely find agreements at conferences and summits but the beloved tiger has proven to be a uniting force. And as we save the tiger, we have new hopes to save the world's biodiversity.'"

Learn more at the Wildlife Conservation Society website.

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