Poaching still biggest threat to recovery of world’s tiger populations
WWF released the findings today to mark the 2nd anniversary of the historic St. Petersburg Tiger Summit, a high-level meeting hosted by the Russian Government and World Bank that saw 13 tiger range governments pledge to double wild tiger numbers from the current 3,200 to 6,000 plus by 2022 (TX2).
Covering 135 critical areas within the 12 landscapes where WWF currently supports tiger conservation, the survey found many of the sites remain poorly managed and under-resourced and therefore remain highly vulnerable to poachers.
“Poaching continues to be the single-most immediate threat to the survival of the tiger in the wild and also the greatest barrier to achieving the TX2 goal,” said Mike Baltzer, leader of WWF's Tigers Alive Initiative. “If we don't work as fast as possible towards ending poaching in these places then we cannot trust that these last remaining populations of tigers, and their prey, are safe for longer term recovery of this endangered species.”
The survey also shows that the same sites are in danger of becoming “paper parks”, i.e.
parks that are legally protected but are not being actively managed and protected on the ground.
Although 90% of the sites surveyed are legally protected, less than half have protection-specific management plans (with the exception of Russia). Across South and Southeast Asia only 12% of sites had the full number of planned staff in place and over 50% were not trained or equipped to an adequate level.
"The report shows that while important government commitments have been made, and much action has been accelerated, we are still far from what is needed to establish the very basics of tiger recovery,” Baltzer added.
Moving forward: six ways to increase tiger numbers
The survey examined six key elements related to effective management and protection against poaching: legal protection status, protection management, effective patrolling, intelligence networks, arrests and prosecutions as well as training and resources for field staff.
Investments in these areas are needed to not only achieve Zero Poaching, but to demonstrate to that the commitments made at the Summit are being actively pursued and are evident in the increased efforts to protect tigers. WWF is committed to Zero Poaching and will use the survey results to help identify gaps for future investments.
Global Tiger Recovery Program and Cards4Tigers
The 2010 Tiger Summit, governments also endorsed the Global Tiger Recovery Programme, an amalgamation of national tiger conservation actions and global targets towards meeting the TX2 goal. As a follow-up to the Tiger Summit, government officials met during the 2nd Asian Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation conducted in Bhutan in October 2012, where they committed to taking immediate and specific action over the next year to strengthen protection.
Since the Tiger Summit, WWF has been working with governments, NGOs and private partners to find ways to improve the effectiveness of ranger patrols through the development of law enforcement monitoring systems across Asia, training teams and key stakeholders in the latest methods in patrolling, prevention and conservation. WWF is presently supporting protection field staff and rangers through the Tigers Alive Initiative's "Cards4Tigers"
For more information please contact
Chris Chaplin, Media Relations Manger, WWF International, +86 139 117 474 72, firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors
To achieve the TX2 goal, WWF recommends that tiger range governments set objectives for 2013 and beyond including
- Nominating their most critical sites for tiger recovery and commit to Zero Poaching as fast as possible in these sites;
- Draft/update and implement protection management plans;
- Increase staffing in under-staffed sites to the levels needed for effective protection;
- Train field staff where staff are currently under-trained to an internationally accepted standard, including modern techniques for monitoring and adapting to increase effectiveness;
- Better equipping field staff who currently lack proper tools and resources; and
- Provide data on staffing, patrolling efforts, arrests and prosecutions to demonstrate their commitment.
A full version of the survey is available for download at http://awsassets.panda.org/downloads/towards_zero_poaching_in_tiger_heartlands.pdf
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.
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