project news

Trial of the Tiger

News item submitted by Flora O'Brien
News item dated 22 Nov 2010


Tigers, one of the most iconic animals on Earth, are merely years away from extinction according to experts.  Tiger populations have declined dramatically by 97% over the past century and their range has dropped to 7% of its historical area.  With only around 3,600 tigers left in the wild, world leaders from the 13 nations where tiger populations now remain have met in St Petersburg to discuss the plight of the tiger.  The four day summit is being hosted by the Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin, and his government, in association with the president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick. The Tiger Summit aims to draw up policies and financial strategies necessary to save the tiger, and hopes to raise £220million towards tiger conservation.

Tigers have suffered severely from human persecution and habitat loss over the past century.  Not only are they viewed as a prize hunting trophy, farmers also regard these majestic cats as threats to their livestock.  Despite the country’s ban on trading tiger products in 1993, tigers are still exploited for Chinese medicine and poaching remains a serious problem in China, where a tiger skin can get as much as £15,000 on the black market.   Clearly more vigilance and action must be taken to prevent tigers being hunted.  This must be coupled, however, with efforts to restore their natural habitats, since tiger ranges have become increasingly fragmented, particularly in India, due to growing human populations and industrialisation.  The recent discovery that tigers exist in altitudes as high as 4,100m in Bhutan gives some hope to conservationists as it means there may be unrecorded tiger populations.  These fragmented populations will quickly disappear however, unless conservation action is undertaken immediately. 

As this is both the international year of biodiversity and the Chinese year of the tiger, now is a prime time to focus on saving the tiger.  Already India has announced plans to create 8 new reserves, and Thailand will dedicate $98.6million to tiger conservation and combating illegal trade.  Hopefully over the next few days at the summit we will see movements towards a brighter future for tigers.

For opportunities to contribute towards tiger conservation, see our South East Asia Ethical Adventure Trail and Cambodia Tropical Wildlife Conservation & Adventure Project.