World leaders back tiger summit rhetoric with recovery plan, seed money
Hosted by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, governments capped a year-long political process with about USD 127 million in new funding to support the plan, known as the Global Tiger Recovery Programme.
In addition, the World Bank has offered a USD 100 million loan package to three tiger range countries for conservation work, and the Global Environment Facility offered to provide up to USD 50 million in grant funding for tiger habitat conservation.
“Too often, conservation efforts languish for lack of political will,” said WWF Director General Jim Leape. “At the Forum here in St. Petersburg we have seen political will at the highest level - heads of government committing themselves to saving the tiger, and laying out concrete plans to turn those commitments into action on the ground.”
“We have never before seen this kind of political support to save a single species,” Leape said. “We now have the strategy needed to double tiger numbers and real political momentum.”
“Initial funding commitments offered here will help get action underway. Much more funding must be mobilized in the months ahead."
"I am confident that we will look back on this day as a turning point in the effort to save one of the world's best-loved animals," Leape said.
Most urgent priority
The 12-year-plan is an amalgamation of national tiger conservation actions and global targets costing an estimated USD 350 million during the next five years to halt the decline of tigers.
The USD 350 million is the remaining cost of the overall plan, not covered by countries holding wild tigers in their individual national plans.
There are as few as 3,200 tigers left in the wild, putting the species on the brink of extinction.
New funding commitments made as a result of the summit process included:
- The U.S. will allocate an additional USD 9.2 million to tiger conservation to combat illegal poaching and trafficking
- Germany will allocate an additional USD 17.2 million for tiger landscape conservation in Russia, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam
- WWF has committed to spend USD 50 million over the next five years on tiger conservation, and set a goal of increasing that to USD 85 million
- Today Leonardo DiCaprio announced a donation of USD 1 million to WWF to support tiger conservation work across WWF’s twelve priority landscapes
- The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) will spend a minimum of USD 50 million during the next 10 years on tiger conservation
- The Global Tiger Forum announced a grant of approximately USD 250,000 to support tiger conservation in Nepal
- The World Bank offered a USD 100 million loan package to Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh to support tiger conservation work
- Global Environment Facility offered to provide up to USD 50 million in grant funding for tiger habitat conservation
“We hope these historic commitments from world leaders will turn into immediate action on the ground for tigers,” said Michael Baltzer, head of WWF’s Tigers Alive initiative.
“What we really need is immediate action on the ground, meaning stepped up anti-poaching and anti-trafficking work, from the 13 tiger range countries. This must be matched by financial support from the international community.”
“We hope rich countries will mirror our funding efforts, or ultimately we’re going to keep losing tigers.”
On Tuesday, world leaders also heard by video link from the WWF Youth Tiger Forum which took place simultaneously in Vladivostok.
Youth delegates from all 13 tiger range countries who participated in the forum presented a special appeal to the leaders to save wild tigers and support the recovery plan.
“What we wanted is for world leaders to hear from young people about the importance of saving tigers, and not from us or bureaucrats,” said WWF-Russia CEO Igor Chestin. “This gave a voice to the public to lend their support to help save wild tigers.”
The Global Tiger Recovery Programme was developed by countries that have tigers, which took more than a year to put together, and lays out a comprehensive set of actions to help tigers recover from decades of poaching and destruction of their forest homes.
The cost of the initial stage of the recovery programme, prepared by the tiger range countries with support from the Global Tiger Initiative of the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility and other tiger conservation partners including WWF, has been largely covered by the tiger range countries themselves, but USD 350 Million is needed from the international community.
Of this total, the most urgent and critical to the recovery is the need for USD 35 Million to fill the current funding gap required to protect and monitor the last remaining refuges of tigers, based a on recent study published in PLoS Biology.