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Tiger experts call for urgent action to save species

Kathmandu, Nepal – More than 250 experts, scientists and government delegates from 13 tiger range countries this week called for immediate action to save tigers before the species disappears from the wild, citing the urgent need for increased protection against tiger poaching and trafficking in tiger parts.

WWF welcomes the recommendations from the Kathmandu Global Tiger Workshop 2009, where organizers on Thursday stated in closing remarks that “without immediate, urgent, and transformative actions, wild tigers will disappear forever.”

The recommendations from the workshop include support for implementing a resolution related to tigers in the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) and to avoid financing development projects that adversely affect critical tiger habitats.

“These are a good start but the momentum from Kathmandu needs to be carried forward all the way to the Tiger Summit during the Year of the Tiger 2010 and beyond,” said Mike Baltzer, head of WWF’s Tiger Initiative. “The tiger range countries are clearly committed to saving their wild tigers and the world needs to extend unstinting support to this mission because once tigers are gone, they’re gone forever.”

There are only about 3,200 tigers left in the wild and WWF’s goal is to double that number by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger. Tiger populations are declining in face of massive poaching for illegal wildlife trade, habitat loss and fragmentation, and conflict with humans.

“I am convinced we are on the right road to saving tigers,” said Dr. Eric Dinerstein, WWF’s Chief Scientist, in his closing remarks to delegates from 20 countries at the conclusion of the meeting. “We will look back on this meeting as the dramatic turning point for conserving this magnificent species, its habitats, Asian biodiversity, and the billions of people who depend upon healthy natural landscapes for which tigers are the talisman.”

The Kathmandu Global Tiger Workshop is the first in a series of political negotiation meetings occurring throughout the year and leading up to a final Heads of State Tiger Summit in September 2010, which is the Year of the Tiger.

The workshop was hosted by Nepal’s Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, Government of Nepal, and co-organized and co-sponsored by the CITES Secretariat, Global Tiger Forum, Global Tiger Initiative, Save The Tiger Fund, and the World Bank.