Tiger conservation forum promises long term commitment
There are 13 countries worldwide that still have tigers in the wild, although the numbers are very low. Without immediate strong action, the next few years will be catastrophic for wild tigers.
GTF is the only inter-governmental body representing countries that still have wild tigers, and it is responsible for facilitating, coordinating and strengthening these governments’ commitments and actions towards saving tigers in the wild.
The two day meeting in New Delhi focused on developing a new strategy for the GTF, learning from conservation approaches across range countries and focusing on issues that can be replicated and strengthened, in efforts to galvanize the political will needed to save the iconic species from extinction. Representatives from eight tiger range countries including India and renowned tiger experts from organizations such as Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), Wildlife Institute of India (WII) were present.
“GTF can play a lead role through close collaboration with tiger range countries and other organizations to check international hotspots of tiger trafficking, besides evolving a regional roadmap to strengthen global tiger conservation through respective National Action Plans, said Indian Minister of Environment, Shri Jairam Ramesh in his message. “The commitment from Tiger Range Countries is important at this juncture to revitalize and strengthen the forum. I appeal to all Tiger Range Countries for their active participation in this regard,” he added.
Standardizing the methodology of conservation approaches on monitoring and habitat management, increasing law enforcement, linking critical area systems and looking at the issue of habitat fragmentation are the common issues that the countries addressed at the meeting. Urgent points also discussed included the need for new awareness-raising campaigns, greater capacity and solutions to transboundary issues such as trade.
“Development of a revised strategy for the GTF and a plan on governance and implementation are the two outcomes that will mark the success of this meeting,” said HE Shri Deepak Bohara, Chairperson of GTF and Minster for Forests and Soil Conservation, Government of Nepal.
WWF-India, an organization that has a long history of initiatives for tiger conservation, dating back to the launch of Project Tiger in 1973, welcomed these new commitments for tiger conservation.
“The GTF being the only inter-governmental body for Tigers is ideally suited to offer a new paradigm for conserving this species among its range countries. We have no time to lose since the wild tiger population is at its tipping point,” said Mr. Ravi Singh, Secretary General and CEO, WWF-India. “WWF remains committed to supporting range state governments as they take on this challenging task.”
The GTF was started in 1993 by tiger range states as a conduit for those countries to collaborate on a global plan for tiger conservation. Seven tiger range countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Cambodia, Laos, Nepal and Vietnam) are members of the GTF as well as the UK along with non-governmental organizations, including WWF and TRAFFIC.
Tigers are particularly in the spotlight during this year which also happens to be the Year of the Tiger in the Chinese lunar calendar. With possibly as few as 3,200 tigers left in the wild, WWF’s focus is on securing political commitments to double the wild tiger population by the next Year of the Tiger in 2022.