The Guardian announced that the World's first summit dedicated to the survival of the Tiger in the wild has reached an impressive agreement. I know if you read on, there are many who have a healthy scepticism on the potential success of the summit, but still it is a start. What I believe is impressive about this summit is the fact that strong nations and strong International Organizations are supporting the idea of preserving the wild Tiger. One of the leading proponents was the head of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick has taken a great interest in preserving the Tiger. This is the group that can provide the access to the finances to make it possible. What I like was the fact the World Bank seems to want to get out of the nature degradation business, which seemed to have been the hallmark of all its lending policies. I believe I mentioned in a previous blog something about "build a dam to exploit your environment and screw the impact", or words to that effect. Also, Vladimir Putin, who is the Prime Minister of Russia, not the President, although many still think he is the President of Russia, and Dmitry Medvedev is either the lapdog of V. Putin or just keeping the seat warm for his return. Mr. Putin has declared himself the Protector of the Tiger, well if there is anyone who can protect the Tiger, it probably is Putin.
The result was that there was a pledge given in the form of $300 Million Dollars to help preserve the Tiger. Also the goal was set to double the population of wild Tigers by the year 2020. To give the perspective, that's from 3,000 to 6,000. It sounds modest but at least its something that can be achieved. An interesting fact of Russia is it has seen its Tiger population grow from 30 to 500 and growing. This gives hope.
There is concern, that much of the agreement does depend upon individual nations, do they have the wherewithal to crack down on poaching, can they preserve the habitat of the Tiger? Also can populations return to nations where they are extinct?
One problem is China. There is a huge market for Tiger parts and there is still the hunting of Tigers. The Premier of China was present but many were concerned he did not seem to make a strong statement. Perhaps just his presence is enough to signal a change. One article made this comment:
Tiger products have been removed from the pharmacopia of traditional medicine ingredients. Chinese officials are also discussing whether to impose a breeding ban on tiger farms as a step towards changing the way they are managed. This – along with the burning of existing stockpiles of carcasses and more undercover investigations by police – would send a clear signal that the tiger market is closed for business in China.
Yet there is still hope. One hope is the fact that Leonardo DiCaprio has pledged to donate $1 Million Dollars for the project. This is something, usually we have celebrities get behind 'causes', but they tend to be rather superficial. Here is a person putting his name and his money to the cause. Good on him. He made it to the summit after some interesting travel problems. He impressed Mr. Putin, who referred to him as a "Real Man", and noted that if this is the calibre of people who support the Tiger Initiative, then it is in good hands.
Other good news. Nepal has made a plan to double its Tiger population.
In the end, let's hope so, not only for the Tiger's sake, but for our own. Mr. Putin said it best:
Nature is the habitat of humans so caring for tigers and their habitat is caring for all people.