Background: Crucial talks to bring Asia’s most iconic animal, the tiger, back from the brink of extinction are taking place in St Petersburg, Russia, from 21 to 24 November. The International Tiger Forum, hosted by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, includes leaders from 13 countries which still have wild tigers, along with conservation organisations including IUCN. They are expected to adopt a high-level declaration and a global recovery plan to save this critically endangered animal.
This Year of the Tiger underscores the urgency for a critical effort to avert the extinction of one of the world’s most charismatic animals. With less than 3,500 left in the wild today, down from 100,000 a century ago, the serious decline of tiger populations is a crisis of global significance.
• “The tiger is the face of Asia’s biodiversity and an emblem of the world’s natural heritage. Action to save the tiger from extinction includes action to restore a part of its original forest habitat – the surest way to regenerate valuable ecosystem services, advance other conservation goals and create livelihoods for some of the most marginalised people on our planet,” says Ashok Khosla, IUCN President. “The international trade in tigers and tiger parts is universally illegal. It must be stopped, immediately. The countries of origin or destination of such trade must enforce their laws with utmost rigour. Action to save the tiger must be launched now, so that the next Year of the Tiger in 2022 presents the world not with a crisis, but with a cause for celebration and a model of success.”
• “The International Tiger Forum promises to be the most significant meeting ever held to discuss the fate of a single non-human species,” says Simon Stuart, Chair of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission. “For the St Petersburg Declaration and the Global Tiger Recovery Program to be more than just a ‘paper tiger’, they must be backed by the highest political commitment and funding.”
• “IUCN, the Global Environment Facility and the World Bank have just launched the SOS initiative to ‘Save Our Species’, to support on-the-ground conservation of threatened animals and plants and to mobilize funding from new sources to species, such as tigers, where they need it most,” says Jean-Christophe Vié, Deputy Head of IUCN’s Species Programme. “SOS will rely on the best available knowledge and expertise to help safeguard this most enigmatic of species.”
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