International Tiger Day – September 28, 2008
Tiger Day in Russia unites efforts of Government, scientists, NGOs and World Bank to save tigers and preserve biodiversity
26 September 2008
(Vladivostok, Russia) – On September 28th, the traditional Tiger Day event will take place in Vladivostok, and will also be celebrated in other nations across the world. This closely follows the June 2008 launch of the Global Tiger Initiative by the World Bank president jointly with major international conservation organizations and various pro-environment celebrities such as Harrison Ford and Ilya Lagutenko. Tiger Day was initially started in Russia and is now celebrated in Europe and other parts of the world on the last Sunday of September.
Regional and federal officials, scientists and practitioners responsible for tiger conservation in the Russian Far East will be joined at the Tiger Day events by representatives of the World Bank, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), AMUR, Phoenix Fund, Zoological Society of London, other members of the Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance (ALTA), leading international tiger experts from the Smithsonian Institution and Save The Tiger Fund (STF) in Washington DC, as well as popular Russian TV personalities and musicians.
On September 26-29, the group will visit nature reserves and rural communities in Southwestern Primorye, meet with field scientists and local anti-poaching brigades, participate in the Tiger Day Festival, a film screening, a tiger conservation planning workshop, and a tiger strategy roundtable organized by the Primorsky Kray Administration. Additional high-level discussions will take place in Khabarovsk on September 30th through October 1st in conjunction with the Far Eastern International Economic Forum.
These events aim to boost public image and solidify official support of the exceptional and successful efforts by Russian and international scientists and conservation practitioners to preserve and sustain the population of the unique Amur tigers and their precious natural habitats, a rare example of how coordinated action can really work at a global scale. This cooperation was highlighted during the recent visit of Prime Minister Putin to Primorsky Kray.
This “flagship” species is not just a noble emblem of the Russian Far East but also treasured by rest of the world community. The survival of wild tigers also represents the health of ecosystems for both human and animal well-being and an undeniable mark of sustainability of regional economic development, one of the slogans of the forthcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit to be hosted by Russia in Vladivostok in 2012.
The group will hold discussions with the Russian officials specifically sharing progress of the ongoing work in priority areas and implementation of the new Federal and Regional Tiger Conservation Programs that could benefit from participation in the Global Tiger Initiative launched on June 9th, 2008. This could include international knowledge-sharing and training efforts for conservation practitioners and managers in environmental economics, public outreach, law enforcement and cross-border cooperation, as well as in designing innovative financing mechanisms.
The Global Tiger Initiative (www.worldbank.org/tigers) unites leading international organizations, charity foundations, regional associations and national participants from the 13 tiger range countries. It aims to stop and reverse the catastrophic global decline of wild tigers by helping sustain their habitats and prey base, decrease illegal trade and trafficking in tiger parts, reduce human-tiger conflict and strengthen wildlife enforcement. The Initiative calls to convene in 2010 the “Year of the Tiger” Summit where leaders of participating governments and international organizations could announce their specific commitments to save these unique wild animals.
Over the past century, the worldwide population of tigers has shrunk from 100,000 to below 4,000.
Participants of The Global Tiger Initiative applaud the recently announced measures of the Government of the Russian Federation to strengthen conservation of the Amur tiger. The following practical priority measures should be further considered in this regard.
Devise strategies and action plans in partnership with all stakeholders to address the illegal trade and other conservation needs.
Explore and develop alternative and new funding mechanisms for tiger conservation.
Facilitate country workshops and other platforms for partnership with NGOs, governments, and the scientific community at the national level to develop appropriate models of conservation.
Substantially increase the number of government inspectors responsible for the protection of tigers and leopards and other animal species and provide them adequate law enforcement rights.
Substantially increase punishments for poaching of prey in hunting areas, for possession and trade in tiger skins and other tiger parts (typical punishments are approximately RUB 2,000, whereas the potential profits are many times higher). Guns used by poachers should be confiscated permanently (presently rifles are returned to poachers after they have paid a small fine).
Protected areas provide core habitat for tigers with abundant prey for them to reproduce. In 2007 two National Parks were established in the Amur tiger habitat. More protected areas are needed and existing protected areas need to be linked with corridors.
The needs of leopards and tigers should be taken into account when planning large infrastructure projects such as oil and gas pipelines.