New global programme to save tigers to link India

June 20th, 2009 - 12:36 pm ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 20 (IANS) In a bid to save wild tigers from extinction, the Smithsonian Institution and the World Bank Group plan to link relevant institutions in India, China, Indonesia, Russia, Thailand and other tiger range countries with global conservation science and professional training centres.

The National Zoo’s Conservation and Research Centre located in the Shenandoah Mountains in Front Royal, Virginia, will serve as one of the initial launch-pads for development of the proposed conservation and development network.

The net network is being set up under an agreement signed here Friday between the Smithsonian and the World Bank. It will train hundreds of rangers, foresters and other habitat managers in the latest cutting-edge practices in biodiversity management, with a specific focus on preserving and increasing wild tiger populations

The World Bank will dedicate more than $1 million over the next year toward these training efforts, and the Smithsonian and World Bank will work to expand the alliance to include other members and raise additional financing for implementation. The Year-of-the-Tiger Summit is scheduled to be held in the second half of 2010.

World Bank Group president Robert B. Zoellick said: “Working together, we can unite hundreds of conservation practitioners and dozens of institutions across the tiger range countries of Asia to arrest the terrible loss of tiger populations and bring these magnificent species back from the brink.”

As poaching, habitat loss and other issues have reduced the global tiger population in the wild to less than 3,500 and the losses continue, the new programme under the Global Tiger Initiative (GTI) will help stabilise and restore wild tiger populations and save this endangered species from extinction in its natural habitats.

The training is aimed to lead to more effective measures against illegal trade and trafficking of tiger parts, and intensify surveillance, detection and conviction of poachers.

In addition to promoting stricter implementation of conservation laws and laws against illegal trade and traffic, the network will also allow countries to more efficiently share information about poaching activity, leading to more robust efforts to combat the problem.

The agreement comes one year after the launch of the GTI, a collaborative effort between the World Bank, the Smithsonian Institution, Global Environment Facility, the International Tiger Coalition, and other members to assist the 13 tiger range countries with their efforts in restoring wild tigers and preserving their habitats.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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