In November 2010 the 13 countries of the world that still have a tiger population came together and pledged to double the number of tigers by 2022. In the first meeting of these tiger range countries, significant progress was reported but poaching still seems to be the number one concern for all nations.
“Steady progress is being made towards meeting the goal of doubling wild tiger numbers,” said Mike Baltzer, Leader of WWF’s Tigers Alive Initiative. “But tiger range governments must urgently and seriously step up action to eliminate poaching if they do not want their investments to go to waste.”
The meeting of the tiger range countries was organized in New Delhi from 15 till 17 May. This was the first time they met since the Tiger Summit in St. Petersburg where the tiger range countries had pledged to double tiger numbers by 2022. The Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP), which represents the plans towards meeting this goal was presented during the summit.
WWF released data before the meeting that showed that of 63 legally protected areas in seven tiger range countries only 22, or 35%, maintain WWF’s minimum standards of protection. In other words, most tigers were still very vulnerable to poaching.
The nations found that poaching was the number one factor in all countries that was halting the progress made and the conservation efforts to made to help sustain tiger population. Although different countries had adopted new ideas and initiatives like the -STrIPES and SMART, to better manage protected areas with tigers, poaching was still a grave concern.
“We are pleased that the approaches we recommended on demand reduction are being considered to support implementation of the GTRP,” said Sabri Zain, Director of Advocacy and Campaigns, TRAFFIC International. “It is critical that we implement new approaches to changing consumer behaviour if we are to successfully stem out poaching in the long run and therefore in achieving TX2.”
TRAFFIC also showed figures from it’s latest research indicating that almost 53 seizures of tiger parts occur each year in Asia. The persistent tiger trade hot-spots were identified as Kathmandu, Nepal, Hanoi and the Russia-Northeast China border. It was suggested that a tiger trade monitoring system be established to constantly keep a check on this illegal trafficking.
The meeting also saw the signing of bilateral agreement between India and Nepal and India and Russia to work in unison to save the tigers.
”This gathering of tiger range states shows that the momentum to save tigers is indeed building, but the pressure on the species continues,” said Ravi Singh, Secretary-General and CEO, WWF-India. “Coordinated anti-poaching measures across tiger range states are called for. These need to be scaled up and implemented urgently to achieve zero poaching.”
The WWF has been working with these tiger nation countries in both training and helping to develop computer-based, law enforcement monitoring systems. It has also worked out an action plan that can help towards zero poaching.
This includes, identifying and delineating the most important sites requiring good protection from poaching, and ensuring these sites have sufficient numbers of enforcement staff who are well trained to monitor and improve their effectiveness by using monitoring systems. The WWF also suggests that the police and judiciary need to help to ensure strict punishment on poaching and to actively engage local communities living adjacent to important tiger conservation areas.
With the tiger range countries willing to cooperate and share their knowledge, it might still be possible to save tigers from extinction.