WASHINGTON - A two-storey-high photo mosaic of a tiger, created from personal photos of nearly 25,000 tiger lovers worldwide, was unveiled in The Netherlands today to urge world leaders to end all trade in tigers. Individuals from more than 140 countries contributed their pictures to it.
The International Tiger Coalition, comprised of 35 organizations working to save wild tigers including World Wildlife Fund, assembled the world's largest photo mosaic of a tiger in front of the World Forum Convention Center in The Hague today with the message, "End Tiger Trade." Delegates from 171 countries are meeting there for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
"We wanted to send a powerful message to world governments that the eyes of the world are watching what happens to tigers," said Dr. Sybille Klenzendorf,, director of Species Conservation at World Wildlife Fund. "WWF is pleased to see that the U.S. delegation is standing up for tigers at the CITES conference and representing its citizens wishes that tigers have a healthy future."
Wild tigers face an emerging threat from Chinese tiger farms, which now house nearly 5,000 captive-bred tigers. The farm owners are pressuring the Chinese government to lift its successful 14-year ban on domestic trade in tiger bones and products. The Chinese delegation to CITES distributed a position paper this week saying it was maintaining the ban for now, but listing the supposed benefits of trading products made from farmed tigers.
"As someone who works in the field to stop tiger poaching, I've seen how China's ban has eased poaching pressure on wild tigers," said Prasanna Yonzon, CEO of Wildlife Conservation Nepal. "Lifting the ban to allow a handful of investors to profit from selling tiger parts would doom tigers in the wild by reigniting demand. And poachers would have a greater incentive to go after wild tigers."
The coalition is calling on the Chinese government to reject the pending petition by tiger farm investors that seeks to overturn the country's ban, close down the country's numerous tiger farms and destroy the stockpile of carcasses being stored on these farms so they cannot enter illegal trade.
Tiger Photo Mosaic Facts:
- So far, close to 25,000 people from at least 146 countries have submitted their photos online to create the International Tiger Coalition's photo mosaic. Of the 146 countries represented on the mosaic, 142 are members of CITES.
- Photos may be submitted for the online version of the mosaic through 15 June. Link is at www.endtigertrade.org.
- Additionally, 32,000 signatures have been collected for a message of appreciation to China, urging the country to keep in place its successful ban on domestic tiger trade.
- The mosaic billboard unveiled at the CITES meeting in The Hague covers 36 square meters and is the height of a two-storey building.
- Citizens from every tiger range state contributed photos to the mosaic: China, India, Myanmar, Bhutan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Thailand, Bangladesh, Russia, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
- The 10 countries submitting the most photos were the Netherlands, the United States, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, India, Indonesia, China, Sweden and Malaysia.
- The International Tiger Coalition is an unprecedented alliance of environmental, zoo and animal protection organizations as well as the traditional Chinese medicine community, that has come together to speak with one voice in calling for an end to trade in tiger parts and products through increased intelligence-led law enforcement and strengthening existing tiger-trade bans. Furthermore, the coalition joins leaders of the international traditional Chinese medicine industry in asking China to make its successful 14-year tiger-trade ban permanent.