Global initiative launched to protect tigers

June 10th, 2008 - 2:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 10 (Xinhua) A coalition of scientists, official and private organisations led by the World Bank has launched a global initiative in an attempt to save tigers. The Tiger Conservation Initiative will set in motion series of high-level dialogues in the tiger range states, and promote international cooperation.

According to its plan, the initiative will host a “2010 Year of the Tiger” summit.

By now, tigers occupy only seven percent of their historical habitat, some 40 percent less than they did just a decade ago, according to John Seidensticker, head of the Conservation Ecology Centre at Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington.

Tiger population worldwide has declined to around 4,000 from more than 100,000 a century ago.

The decline is driven by the loss of prey and habitat due to uncontrolled development and poaching for trade in tiger body parts on the black market.

“Just as with many challenges of sustainability - such as climate change, pandemic disease, or poverty - the crisis facing tigers overwhelms local capabilities and transcends national boundaries,” said World Bank President Robert Zoellick at the launch ceremony at the zoo.

“Nothing short of global action will bring back wild tigers,” said Grace Ge Gabriel, spokesperson for the International Tiger Coalition (ITC), a partner of the initiative.

Hollywood actor Harrison Ford, a board member of Conservation International, and several other celebrities also showed up and threw their support behind the tiger initiative.

The state of the tiger population is an indicator of biodiversity and barometer of sustainability.

Since tigers are at the top of the food chain, conservation of wild tigers also means the preservation of the habitats in which they live and the prey.

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