By JANESE HEAVIN of the Tribune’s staff
Published Friday, December 28, 2007
That’s why the University of Missouri has teamed up with two other tiger-themed colleges to raise money to combat tiger farming and illegal trade of tiger parts in Asia.
MU, Auburn University in Alabama and Clemson University in South Carolina this month kicked off the Tigers for Tigers Challenge fundraising effort, a friendly competition between the school that aims to raise $75,000 by Dec. 13, 2008.
“We’re very excited about this,” said Dana Morris, coordinator of Mizzou Tigers for Tigers. “It’s a great combined effort to really make a significant impact on tiger awareness and raise a lot of funds, as well.”
Money raised from the Tigers for Tigers Challenge will allow the World Wildlife Fund to set up an enforcement network in places such as the eastern Himalayas and the Mekong River Delta to stop illegal farming and trade.
The World Wildlife Fund estimates there are roughly 5,000 tigers left in the wild. China has had a ban on the tiger trade since 1993, the WWF reports; however, those restrictions have led to tiger farming, in which more than 4,000 tigers are bred for body parts such as bones and skin.
“Tiger farms are feeding the demand, so they’re actually, in a way, increasing the demand for parts” and encouraging poaching, Morris said.
It’s important for those who value the tiger as a mascot to help protect the survival of the species, said Matt Gompper, an associate professor in the fisheries and wildlife sciences department at MU and co-chairman of the local Tigers for Tigers effort.
“One thing we don’t want to do is become a university that has an extinct species as our mascot,” he said. “It’s clear by what we know about tiger biology and the population around much of Asia, if nothing is done, tigers will go extinct.”
Mizzou Tigers for Tigers hopes to enlist the help of MU athletic teams to raise money and awareness during sporting events and hopes to appeal to sports fans as well, Morris said.
“We get so much from using the tiger as our mascot,” she said. “It’s a great image for our sports teams to portray these ferocious, powerful hunters. It would just seem silly to continue that if there were no tigers in the wild.”
How to donate
School of Natural Resources;
302 Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building,
University of Missouri,
Columbia, Mo., 65211
For The Tiger
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