Today is Global Tiger Day – an annual celebration first declared back in 2010 by the governments of all 13 countries where tigers are still found in the wild. The day that the event was announced was an amazing landmark for tiger conservation. I remember it well…
It was in sub-zero temperatures and snow blizzards that world leaders came together at the ‘tiger summit’ in St Petersburg, Russia, in November 2010 to agree a new plan for the future of the tiger.
Based on many months of talks with WWF and other organisations, the leaders recognised that saving tigers in the wild should be an important part of their agenda. And that it wouldn’t happen without going well beyond ‘business as usual’.
It meant stepping up conservation efforts, with a fresh plan and real action – both in the halls of government and on the ground. And it meant working across borders and along illegal wildlife trade routes right through to where tiger parts are sold.
The outcome was a global recovery plan for tigers.
The governments also adopted the WWF goal of ‘TX2’ – doubling the number of tigers in the wild by 2022, the next Chinese Year of the Tiger.
The energy provided by the summit triggered new thinking, new partnerships and new approaches, and laid a solid foundation based on political will to make the future a better one for tigers.
So where have we got to in the two-and-a-half years since?
Well, we’ve already helped achieve some hugely important results, like a logging ban on Korean Pine in Russia – a key tree species for tiger habitat.
And we’ve seen more areas of protected forest, stronger and better equipped anti-poaching patrols in many places, and improved law enforcement thanks to newly set-up national and regional government bodies.
And, most importantly of all, we’re seeing tiger numbers increase in some places.
But we know the pressure on tiger habitat is going to carry on. And that poaching and illegal trade is still a huge threat. That’s why we have to work harder than ever to help protect tigers. Including working with governments and local communities to get ‘more and better boots on the ground’ with our ‘towards zero-poaching’ initiative.
And that’s why we’re set to launch a global campaign to fight illegal wildlife trade. We know that, with the help of our supporters and partners, we’re making headway.
We know there will be good news and bad news along the way. But we also know that doubling the number of tigers in the wild is possible.