Conservationists hail World Bank’s new mission to protect tigers (Lead)

June 10th, 2008 - 6:45 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 10 (IANS) A leading global conservation organisation Tuesday welcomed the World Bank’s latest initiative to protect tigers and urged the agency to review its development projects to harmonise it with conservation goals. The International Tiger Coalition (ITC), an alliance of 39 organisations fighting for the long-term survival of tigers in the wild, said it was ready to help the Bank on its initiative.

The Bank Monday launched a Tiger Conservation Initiative in an effort to bring wild tigers back from the brink of extinction.

“Nothing short of global action will ensure the recovery of tigers in the wild,” said Grace Ge Gabriel, spokesperson for the ITC and Asia Regional Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

“We must build on the successes, while learning from the past. This process is crucial to avoid further damage to tigers in poorly planned development projects,” she told IANS through an email.

Tigers face increasing threats in the wild from habitat loss, prey loss and poaching for trade in their body parts.

Their population, which at the turn of the 20th century stood at 100,000, has diminished to below 4,000, spread out in fragmented habitats in 13 countries.

“The ITC hopes that the World Bank in the coming months will have open and frank dialogues in tiger range countries about what has and has not worked in tiger conservation,” Gabriel said.

The Bank said it would review its past performances of development schemes in or adjacent to tiger habitats and develop effective strategies for harmonising conservation with other development objectives.

“Addressing the threats to tigers’ calls for innovative interventions which tackle the root cause of the problem - the incentives to poach tigers and their prey and to destroy habitats,” a World Bank statement said.

The Bank will also “support cross-regional initiatives to protect tigers from any form of exploitation”, it said.

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