Can you imagine a world without tigers? It seems hard to fathom that one of the most beloved — albeit feared — creatures might one day cease to roam the Earth. But the reality is that “one day” could be as soon as 12 years from now, if conservation efforts don’t kick into high gear — and soon.
According to a recent joint study from TRAFFIC and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), tigers face increasing threats from illegal trafficking in Myanmar and Thailand. Most of the demand on the black market for the animals — which are considered desired and exotic by many — comes from Chinese nationals, who cross the border to both consume and acquire all parts of the animal.
Exacerbating the problem is the lack of government regulation in these countries of the black market for tigers and other exotic wildlife. However, the good news is that there is an international effort under way to address the conservation of the giant felines: Representatives from China, Myanmar and Thailand met beginning today for the International Tiger Conservation Forum, hosted by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
The Global Tiger Recovery Program, approved at the summit, will invest $350 million over 12 years to protect tiger habitat and combat poaching and illegal trafficking, according to an article from the Associated Press. The program will also create incentives to encourage local communities to participate in the effort.
With only 3,200 tigers left in the wild, there is a possibility that the next generation will view tigers as we view Dodo birds. But whether or not that happens depends on us.