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Face to face with tigers – in the UK

 

A few weeks ago we launched a new campaign putting members of the public in the boots of rangers, in which they’d come face to face with tigers… right in the middle of London! There was however not a single actual tiger in sight. So how did we do it?

WWF’s work is incredibly broad, and a lot of it takes place overseas- sometimes it can be difficult for people to imagine how tangible it is, and how none of it would be possible without their support. Take tiger conservation for example. Rangers are the real heroes out in the field, but the very nature of their work makes it a faraway story.

Bengal tigresses snarling, about to fight Ranthambhore NP, Rajasthan, India © naturepl.com / Anup ShahBengal tigresses snarling, about to fight Ranthambhore NP, Rajasthan, India © naturepl.com / Anup Shah

So we aim to transport members of the public into a forest, putting them in the boots of a ranger with this virtual reality (VR) video. You can watch the film on a normal laptop and scroll in any direction, but we’d strongly recommend using a VR device like Galaxy Gear or Google Cardboard in YouTube’s 360 mode, to get the fully immersive experience.

But we also brought a physical pop-up forest to shoppers at Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City over two weeks in July and August, taking them on an interactive journey.

The Tiger Experience ‘pop-up forest’ was set up at two Westfield shopping centres © WWF-UKThe Tiger Experience ‘pop-up forest’ was set up at two Westfield shopping centres © WWF-UK

Greeted by one of our ‘rangers’, members of the public were guided through a forest trail featuring questions about tiger conservation and iPad videos about our officers in the field. Surrounded by the sounds and even the smells of the forest, they took part in the virtual reality experience, answered quizzes, and children even got their faces painted with tiger colours.

The Tiger Experience was popular among both adults and children © WWF-UKThe Tiger Experience was popular among both adults and children © WWF-UK

People also posed with a full scale tiger and cub model and shared their #ThumbsUpForTigers selfies. Around 5,000 people took the VR experience, with some 13,000 visiting the stand in total.

The Tiger Experience provided great opportunities to discuss our work with supporters © WWF-UKThe Tiger Experience provided great opportunities to discuss our work with supporters © WWF-UK

But there’s a serious message too

Over 95% of wild tigers were lost in the past century, and rangers often face life threatening situations in the field, with 74% of rangers surveyed in Asia recently saying they feel they don’t have enough equipment to do their jobs properly. When I was in Asia last year I witnessed this first hand; rangers have a huge amount of passion, bravery and skill, but are often lacking essential equipment like walkie-talkies, binoculars and quality boots or waterproof clothing. So we’re raising funds by asking members of the public to adopt a tiger with WWF, helping raise  important funds for tiger projects and other vital work. We hope the VR experience helps show why rangers need support.

Its not just about money though

We have other objectives aside from raising funds, including education, campaigning and prompting people to share their love for the natural world on social media. At the end of the day, our work wouldn’t be possible without our supporters, so we want to inspire them about the work we do and which they make happen.

So, why not approach all these objectives at the same time. That’s what we’re trying to do with the Tiger Experience campaign; of course as a charity we’d like people to adopt a tiger or make a donation, but there are other non-financial ways to support our work. If we can double the number of people watching this video by having them share it, we’ll be getting closer to our goal of doubling wild tiger numbers.

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