The last twelve months saw great steps forward in tiger conservation, perhaps most critically the International Tiger Forum, held in St. Petersburg, Russia in November 2010, which was the first ever international summit convened to focus on a single, non-human species. It produced the historic Global Tiger Recovery Programme (GTRP) -a collaboration between the 13 countries that still have wild tigers, which set a goal of doubling wild tigers by the next Year of the Tiger in 2022.
The recovery programme is a big boost for tigers," said Mike Baltzer, Head of WWF's Tigers Alive Initiative. "But it is only the beginning. We must now join the tiger countries and our partners worldwide to ensure the momentum from the Forum and this past year's tiger conservation achievements continues. Tigers have reached a critical juncture and their recovery must not lose steam."
Wild tiger numbers are down to as few as 3,200, with the scattered populations that live across 13 countries having lost more than 93 percent of their historic range. Just 100 years ago, an estimated 100,000 tigers roamed across Asia.
As the recovery program takes shape, progress has already been made to save tigers in the wild. This includes:
- The Korean Pine, a critical tree in the Russian Far East has been awarded official protective status, ending its logging in Amur tiger habitat
- A new wildlife conservation bill was passed in Malaysia, providing significantly higher penalties and mandatory jail time for wildlife crime, with poaching of tigers and trading in their parts now receiving far stiffer punishment
- India announced it's 39th tiger reserve (Sahyadri), with another eight new reserves in development
- Indonesia's Ministry of Forest placed a moratorium on conversion of virgin forest and peat swamp forest on the island of Sumatra for the next two years, thus protecting prime Sumatran tiger habitat
- Cambodia formally designated Selma Forest a protected area, creating a new and vital protected area as part of the Eastern Plains Tiger Landscape Protected Area Complex
- The South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN) was established, strengthening anti-poaching and wildlife trade law enforcement efforts in the tiger countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal
- In late January 2011, WWF assisted the government of Nepal in the country's first successful relocation of an injured tiger to a new home in one of the country's premier national parks.
"While we have seen major decisions made that will go a long way in supporting the recovery of wild tiger populations, we now need to take the next step and turn Year of the Tiger commitments into success. 2011 must be the year of action," Said Diane Walkington, Head of Species at WWF-UK.
Now, as the Year of the Tiger gives way to the United Nation's International Year of Forests, the tiger's forest habitat will continue to link it to Asian and international biodiversity conservation efforts.
Throughout this year, WWF will be running a Living Forests Campaign that will combine cutting edge science, new perspectives from partners and decades of on-the-ground experience to help address the joint challenge of saving forests and the multitude of species, including tigers, which live in them.
"The tiger is an indicator species for healthy forests, and 2011 has already seen strong continuing support for tigers and their habitat," said Mike Baltzer. "As Year of the Tiger closes, we must redouble our efforts and ensure this magnificent species continues to roar into the next Year of the Tiger in 2022."
For further information please contact:
Kellie Hulbert, Press Officer
Tel: 01483 412383