Save the Tiger
MEP Gill calls for greater EU-Coordinated action
21 April 2008 – Issue : 778
The European Parliament has called for a new strategy to prevent the tiger from becoming extinct. MEP Neena Gill, President of the European Parliament’s India Delegation, held a special “Tiger Day” in the European Parliament on April 16, where she called for greater EU-coordinated action to prevent the tiger from becoming extinct.
Combining a lively meetings and events to raise awareness of the depleting numbers of tigers across Asia, and to discuss EU support to tackle the issue, Gill was joined by Valmik Thapar and Grace de Gabriel, two of the world’s leading tiger experts, who flew in from India and China respectively to address the European Parliament, sharing their concern about the tiger’s future.
Gill told her audience, “Losing the tiger would be a global tragedy. Therefore, I am calling on the European Union to develop a comprehensive strategy to tackle this issue. This would include at the very least the following five steps:
-Provide technical assistance to tiger states in enforcing and analysing criminal networks
-Provide financial assistance to aid in the protection of wild tigers
-Urge India and China at the highest political level to continue to take action in tackling organised “tiger trafficking mafias,” and to increase enforcement of laws
– Call on all countries involved, and especially India, China and Nepal, to cooperate on tackling this issue through collaborative strategies to combat cross border trafficking
– Raise awareness and education worldwide on the immediate threat facing tigers, in order to change attitudes towards consumption and decrease demand in China and other consuming nations.”
According to The Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) (http://www.wpsi-india- .org/wpsi/index.php), India holds over half the world’s tiger population. Citing the latest tiger census report released on February 12, 2008 by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the WPSI stated on its website, “Current tiger population stands at 1,411 (i.e. ranging between a minimum of 1,165 to a maximum of 1,657).”
Moreover, recent undercover investigations by the WPSI and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) revealed that the trade in tiger and leopard body parts in China continues to thrive, operating without any hindrance from the Chinese government whilst driving India’s wild tigers closer towards extinction.
“With the run-up to the Beijing Olympics, the world’s attention is on China. We must raise this issue with the authorities and ensure they do not lift the ban on trade in tiger products which would prove disastrous to global efforts to save the tiger,” commented Gill.
“Tigers are one of the world’s most adored animals. We must act now before it is too late. We owe it to future generations to give them the opportunity to marvel at them as we have done. “Although the European Union is not a major consumer of tiger parts or products, it can still play an important role in the fight to save these wonderful animals. By increasing financial and technical assistance to those working in tiger conservation, encouraging high level political dialogue between tiger states, and by operating more effectively through existing international bodies, it can make a huge contribution. The tiger is a global icon, and I want Tiger Day to be the kick start that allows it to endure as one,” added Gill.
Some reports put the number of tigers in India around 50,000 a century ago while the country is said to be home to 40 percent of the world’s tigers, with 23 tiger reserves in 17 states.
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