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Thousands of Photos Will Build Online Tiger

Web Campaign Seeks Photos to Send Message Against the Trade in Endangered Tigers

WWF and twenty-nine other tiger conservation groups this week launched a worldwide campaign to collect supporters’ pictures that will be part of the world’s largest photo mosaic of a tiger. The finished mosaic will be unveiled to world leaders in June as they gather to discuss trade in endangered species at the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) meeting in The Hague, Netherlands.

Supporters of tiger conservation can take part in the campaign by uploading their photos to Visitors to the mosaic can zoom in on the larger tiger picture and find images submitted of themselves and family and friends.

The mosaic campaign is being launched as China considers lifting its ban on trade in tiger bone and other body parts, a move that would be disastrous for wild tigers since an increase in poaching would immediately follow.

"This is a fun, interactive web tool with a serious goal. We decided that the most powerful message would come from having the public weigh in, voting for tiger conservation with their faces," said Judy Mills, director of the Campaign Against Tiger Trafficking. "The aim of the mosaic is to send a united message that the world believes China’s current ban on tiger trade is absolutely necessary for the future of tigers in the wild."

Supporters will also have the opportunity to send a note to China’s leaders recognizing them for their effective 1993 ban on tiger trade and urging them to maintain the ban. These messages of appreciation will be hand delivered to officials in China.

"Your snapshot could help save tigers," said Sybille Klezendorf, director for Species Conservation at World Wildlife Fund. "The Chinese government is being pressured by a handful of wealthy tiger breeders to lift the ban so they can profit from selling tiger bone wine, tiger meat and skins. This would make it open season on the fewer than 5,000 tigers left in the wild. Criminals would have an easy time ‘laundering’ tigers poached from the wild."

An international coalition of 30 organizations including conservationists, animal welfare groups, traditional Chinese medicine organizations and zoos is organizing this interactive campaign to save wild tigers.