Day 1 and 2 of the Tiger Summit dominated by calls for funds
As day one and two of the St. Petersburg Tiger Summit pass the dominant media coverage is focusing on how large the budget needs to be to save the worlds tigers.
Although ‘political will’ has been lacking within the 13 tiger range States, it is the economics of the tiger problem that has pushed these iconic animals close to extinction - economics of resources to stamp out poaching and the incredible profits that can be made in selling tiger parts through the black market.
Tigers are animals that need big spaces, which is the crux of the problem. It is difficult to protect big areas from poachers, without significant Government commitment and fundamental political will to stamp out the poaching and illegal trade.
The Wildlife Conservation Society has pledged a significant sum to tiger conservation and the meeting itself is now locked in discussion about a sizable budget. Most of this budget through is to be spent on conservation activities. While worthy and incredibly important, this focus is not going to address the economies of stamping out poaching and black market trade. This level of action is not going to address the need for each of the 13 countries where tigers live to address habitat protection, poaching and illegal trade
Revikin over at Dot Earth is pushing a novel line, helped along by a tweet from Leonardo DiCaprio, calling for Apple to help out.
In my last post on the Tiger Summit I quoted Dr Alan Rabinowitz, President and CEO of Panthera, in his interview with Barkham, where he say:
“I’m frustrated because the international conservation community is not pulling itself together. It’s hiding behind trees. … We know how to save tigers. It is not brain surgery. Tigers breed really well. Protect them, and they come back pretty quickly but none of the areas are being protected.”
Rabinowitz says the tiger summit is devoting too much time and resources to side issues such as education and carbon emission allowances to preserve tiger habitat.
“Money has not been focused on the one thing that will save tigers immediately, and that’s adequate protection of the protected areas [from poachers],” he says.
He calls it ‘money for political correctness’.
Experts have told the Summit that wild tigers could become extinct in 12 years unless urgent measures are taken to protect them. according to the Times, the Summit is seeking donor commitments to help governments finance conservationist measures. The Global Tiger Recovery Program approved at the meeting estimates the countries will need about $350 million in outside funding in the first five years of the 12-year plan. Only about 30 percent of that estimate will go toward programs to suppress poaching and as yet, I can see not report of committment to address illegal trade.
Still, it is only day 2, and there is more time to run. But at this stage I only minimal evidence reported from the summit that protection from the threats of habitat loss and poaching is going to be aggressively addressed.
** since posting this article, the CITES Secretary General, John Scanlon, has released the CITES statement to the Tiger Summit:
“The International Tiger Forum in St Petersburg should send a loud and clear message to criminals who prey upon tigers – you will be hunted down and brought to justice”