Last week, Russia along with a few Asian nations guaranteed to work towards doubling the number of wild tigers by the year 2022. This comes in the light of these nations making a concentrated effort against poaching that has led to a decline in tigers as well as efforts to protect their habitats and counter the building of infrastructure such as roads and buildings in these areas.
Unfortunately, though, the conservatory efforts do not include any financial backing. This means, the thirteen countries will have to approach the World Bank and other international NGOs for funding in order to develop these programs.
The importance of this declaration was highlighted by Thailand’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment; Suwit Khunkitti, who spoke of the importance of saving the wild tigers, reiterating that prior to this not many people, paid enough attention towards them.
In September this year, the declaration will be put forth for approval by the heads of state of the thirteen countries in Vladivostok, Russia.
Human encroachment and poaching over the last few decades have brought down the population of tigers to alarming levels, with the natural habitat declining by at least nine-tenths of its original area. The beginning of the 20th century had the tiger population at around 100,000, and the current figure stands at approximately 3,500 or less.
This is the first time government-level commitments are being made, according to Michael Baltzer, head of the WWF Tiger Initiative. The declaration includes the agreement to protect tiger habitats, key sanctuaries and national parks as well as improved laws against poaching. The only hindrance lies with China, who initially banned the tiger trade in 1993, but is now lobbying against it.
The thirteen countries are Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.