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Push to Save Tigers Leaps Forward at Bali Meeting, WWF Says

Stage Set for Agreement to Double Wild Tiger Numbers When Leaders Meet in September’s Historic Tiger Summit in Russia

WASHINGTON, DC, July 14, 2010 – Tiger experts from the 13 tiger range countries laid out an ambitious plan to double tiger numbers in the wild by 2022 during a crucial tiger meeting that concluded in Bali today. The meeting was the final one among the 13 countries before world leaders gather later this year at the Tiger Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.

“While there’s still work to be done in the coming weeks, this has been a crucial meeting ahead of the Tiger Summit,” said Michael Baltzer, leader of WWF’s Tiger Program. “These countries have worked together to lay down solid plans to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022 – a critical goal to save this endangered animal.”

Tigers are in a dire situation. The global wild population is reduced to an estimated 3,200 individuals. From nine tiger sub-species, only six exist today — the Sumatran, Bengal, Amur, Indochinese, South China and Malayan tiger. Threats to the tiger include poaching and illegal trade, massive habitat fragmentation and destruction, loss of prey and poaching. Tigers are also lost due to retaliatory killing when they come into conflict with villagers living around tiger habitat.

“These governments will now take the proposed commitments to St. Petersburg and world leaders will consider backing them with the political it will take to save tigers in the wild,” Baltzer added. “The outcomes of this meeting will provide a foundation for success at the Tiger Summit in Russia.”

In Bali this week, tiger range governments presented individual national plans to protect tigers that will be put into a Global Tiger Recovery Program – essentially an overarching plan to double the number of tigers in the wild – which will then be approved at the Tiger Summit.

The 13 tiger range states’ national plans likely will cost more than $356 million for immediate implementation, according to their presentations this week.

“Now that these countries have shown their willingness to act, the success of any global plan launched in St. Petersburg will depend on financial support from the international community and the tiger nations themselves,” Baltzer said. 

Governments also agreed to elements for a Leader’s Declaration, a document that will include joint commitments by the 13 tiger range states to:

  • agree that tigers are key to healthy ecosystems and that tiger conservation efforts are primarily a national responsibility, but that “financial and technical support of the international community ” is still needed to save wild tigers;
  • collaborate on issues that affect tigers across borders, including ensuring the uninhibited movement of tigers and the management of joint tiger conservation areas;
  • increase enforcement efforts to eradicate poaching, the main driver of tiger loss, and reduce the trafficking of tiger parts;
  • identify and protect key tiger habitats, including critical breeding areas;
  • increase systematic patrols of tiger areas and protect their prey.

“Hosting this meeting in Bali – where the Balinese tiger went extinct in the 1940s – is a symbol of Indonesia’s commitment to help with this global effort to protect tigers and bring them back from the brink of extinction,” said WWF Indonesia CEO Dr. Efransjah. “We commend Indonesia for its leadership at this meeting, and ask for the same level of commitment and passion leading up to and during the Tiger Summit. We are committed to supporting these ongoing efforts and to working with the Indonesian government for the conservation of tigers.”

With an estimated 400 Sumatran tigers left, or 12 percent of the global tiger population, Indonesia has a key role to play in the global tiger recovery program.

World tiger experts and representatives from other NGOs, including the Global Tiger Initiative, also are attending the Bali meeting. The meeting is a prelude to the Heads of Government Tiger Summit, scheduled to be held in St. Petersburg, Russia from 15-18 Sept. 2010.