To save tigers from extinction, 13 nations which are abode of the endangered big cats have pledged to get their act together to double by the year 2022 the number of the felines from the present 3,200 in the wild.
A decision in this regard was taken at a recent meeting in Bali, Indonesia, by the countries along with the World Bank’s Global Tiger Initiative (GTI) to develop a concrete plan to reinvigorate the tiger count.
The plan is expected to serve as a road map for tiger conservation to be adopted by world leaders at the first global summit on tigers this September in St Petersburg, Russia to be attended by Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam besides the host country.
The striped cats, whose count has declined by a whopping 97 per cent from over a lakh in the 20th century, continue to face threats due to increasing demand for their skin and body parts in the global market.
The officials at the meet agreed to prepare a national action plan comprising a Global Tiger Recovery Programme for adoption at the Tiger Summit, according to a statement from the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
It includes providing skills and equipment to rangers and law enforcement officials to combat poaching and illegal trafficking of tigers.
The global blueprint for tiger protection would be backed by joint commitments to better conserve key tiger habitats across range countries and to step up enforcement to eradicate poaching and end trafficking in tiger body parts.
“We welcome this plan for decisive global action to save wild tigers and hope that it translates into real protection for tigers on the ground,” said IFAW president Fred O’Regan.
Expressing concern over their dwindling population, he said, “It’s time to stop these magnificent animals from vanishing before our eyes.”
The proposed declaration will commit tiger range States to strengthen national legislation and law enforcement to combat crime directed against tigers and increase systematic patrolling to safeguard tigers, their prey and habitat.
“Governments must increase the number of anti-poaching teams and improve national systems for wildlife protection if we are to succeed in saving tigers from extinction,” said Masha Vorontsova, Director of IFAW Russia.
Aligned with the draft plan for adoption at the Tiger Summit this September, IFAW is spearheading campaigns in China and throughout Asia to reduce consumer demand for tiger body parts, including bones, skin, and even whiskers.
To mobilise support for the tiger’s cause, the organisation plans to engage children around the globe to greet participants of the St Petersburg Tiger Summit while video messages will be gathered from youths calling on world leaders to take action to save the animal.