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Historic Tiger Summit Closes With Plans to Secure More Financial Backing

ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA, November 24, 2010 – The historic International Tiger Conservation Forum ended today with significant plans to discuss further financing options for the Global Tiger Recovery Program approved at the meeting, kick-starting new efforts to double the number of wild tigers.

On the final day of the summit, delegates met briefly to hammer out key dates in the coming year to reach a final agreement on how to finance and monitor the recovery plan. This followed the endorsement on Tuesday of the Program and a Leader’s Declaration by heads of government and tiger range countries.

“The tiger summit delivered what we hoped—the turning point in our efforts to save one of the world's best-loved species,” said Ginette Hemley, Senior Vice-President at World Wildlife Fund (WWF), who attended the summit. “Never before have we seen the world rally together to save a single species and now we all need to put in the hard work necessary to get wild tigers from the current point of crisis to healthy recovery.”

The 13 tiger range countries will meet during the next six months to secure additional funding for the recovery plan, and will finalize the long-term financing of the plan in July. They will meet again in December 2011 to monitor how well the 12-year plan to save tigers is working.

At the summit, WWF pledged to raise $85 million for tiger conservation over the next five years. WWF also released its plans to support the government’s commitments to save tigers.

Hosted by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, governments concluded a year-long political process on Tuesday with about $127 million in new funding to support the plan, known as the Global Tiger Recovery Program. In addition, funding will include a large loan package from the World Bank to some tiger range countries, and millions in additional grants from the Global Environment Facility.

Heads of state from Bangladesh, China, Laos and Nepal also attended the summit.

The Global Tiger Recovery Program, which took over a year to put together, lays out a comprehensive set of actions to help tigers recover from decades of poaching and the destruction of their forest homes.

The cost of the initial stage of the recovery program has been largely covered by the tiger range countries themselves, but an additional $350 million is needed from the international community.

“This summit has created the high level government backing that we needed to create a platform to immediately reverse the decline of wild tigers which is threatening them with extinction,” said Michael Baltzer, head of WWF’s Tigers Alive initiative. “We need governments to lead the charge forward and maintain this political enthusiasm and intensity – because the tiger cannot wait for our help.”