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Wild Tiger Population: surviving corruption and poaching?

Friday, December 3, 2010 · Category Environment · comments 0

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From 21st till the 24th of November The International Tiger Conservation Forum was hosted in St. Petersburg, where the 13 Tiger Range Countries (TRC) gathered to discuss action against the protection of the Tiger. The EU recently bailed out Greece and Ireland for living on borrowed money, yet we have difficulties gathering $ 350 mln. to fight corruption and save one of our planets most beautiful creatures: The Tiger.

Tiger Range CountriesTiger Range CountriesThe Tiger Range Countries and the International Tiger Conservation Forum

The Tiger Range Countries adopted a declaration to save the wild tigers from extinction and strive to double the number of wild tigers by 2022. Of course this is an excellent outcome supported by some of the most influential men - like Prime Minister Putin - yet the question remains if the corruption and black market can be eradicated. Besides, many of the TRC's are facing economical difficulties and will need help from the international community to set up a new trust fund to collect money from various donors as well as to work out additional flexible mechanisms to sponsor the efforts to save the tiger.

Wild Tiger conservation: Documentaries and projects

Just after the conference I came across yet another documentary about the poaching of tigers and the black market trade in Tibet with it's headquarters in the city of Lhasa. It seemed the traders where not afraid to show off their Tiger skins and bones because of the protection of the Chinese military now occupying the Tibet country.

This documentary is based on efforts of London-based Environmental Investigations Agency. Scottish Debbie Banks, 38, travels the world hunting out illegal traders who profit from the sale of tiger products. As head of the tiger campaign at the London-based Environmental Investigations Agency, Debbie compiles information about these salesman and how the tigers are taken from their native land to the shops.  Check out the website from the Environmental Investigations Agency

Another interesting Wildlife conservation project is based on intelligance gathering with the mission to understand tigers basic survival needs by determining what they eat, how they life and what type of habitat they prefer. One of the teams has been following 8 radio-collared Siberian Tigers in the Russian Far East. Unfortenately for the past 11 years 80% of the radio-collared tigers have been killed by men. Read more about the intelligence gathering programme's.

Why do tigers get poached?

  • First, tigers get poached by local villagers, because they are regarded as a pest. Villagers and farmers who live adjacent to tiger-reserves, lose livestock to tigers when these cats move out to hunt.
  • Second, tigers get poached for their skins. Tiger skins are in demand right throughout Asia (and possibly further afield). One of the most important markets for this has been Tibet.
  • Third, tigers get poached for curios and tonics. In many parts of Asia, tiger teeth or claws were used by local communities. E.g. in Vietnam, tiger meat or parts were used to make tonics.
  • Finally, tigers get poached for the bones. Tiger bones are used to make medicine to treat severe bone diseases in humans. This is the important Chinese Traditional Medicine Market.

Wild Tiger Black market trade

Each year some 150 Tiger skins and 150 kilo of Tiger bones are being sold at an annual turnover of some $ 5 million. In 2009 one tiger skin costs around $ 20.000 and a kilo of tiger bones is estimated at some $ 1.200. The killing of 150 wild tigers a year is about 5% of the population.

Tiger populations

Overall the wild tiger population has dwindled from a 100.000 at the beginning of the 20th century to some 3.500. The Indian tiger population plunged to just 1,350 in 2007 — just over a third of the 3,700 estimated to be alive in 2002. From the Russian Amur tiger only some 450 remain in the wild.

Projects for the future

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) plans to spend $85 million in the next five years on programs aimed at restoring the global tiger population. Other programs are aimed at restoring the national habitat or as Russian Prime Minister Putin said: "Russia's tiger families can start the revival of tiger populations in countries where they have vanished, for example, in Kazakhstan and Iran,"

Habitat information for different subspecies of Wild Tigers:

  • tiger_plight_2000.jpg
  • Tiger_Skin_Tibet.jpg
  • tigers-skins.jpg

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