Decline in Russian Tiger Population Renews Calls to End All Trade
October 16, 2009
A shocking decline in the Russian Federation’s wild tiger population highlights the importance of eliminating trade in and demand for tiger parts, said Wildlife Alliance and other members of the International Tiger Coalition (ITC) today. The alliance of 40 organizations worldwide issued the statement upon news that Siberian tigers may have suffered a serious drop in numbers over the past four years.
A report released today by The Siberian Tiger Monitoring Program indicates that tiger populations in the Russian Far East, which in 2005 numbered nearly 500, have declined significantly due to poaching of tigers for their skins, bones and meat as well a poaching of tiger prey and habitat degradation. The seriousness of the news was underscored the day before, when a young male tiger was found dead in the region with two bullets in its head.
“Russia’s tigers have been a stand-out success story,” said Judy Mills, the ITC’s moderator. “This apparent sudden, marked decline should act as a reminder of why regional efforts must urgently be strengthened in response to increasingly sophisticated criminal networks.”
The ITC recommends concerted bilateral law enforcement between the Russian Federation and China to address illegal cross-border wildlife trade, especially in tigers, as an immediate first step. Furthermore, the ITC encourages countries to remind potential consumers that tiger trade is illegal and destroy existing stockpiles of tiger parts and products, as their existence raises expectations of a future resumption of trade.
A meeting in Kathmandu, Nepal, at the end of this month will bring together 13 of 14 tiger range countries, including the Russian Federation, to discuss how to reverse the precipitous decline in all wild tiger populations. The meeting is the first step in preparations for a summit of heads of tiger range states next year to mark the 2010 Year of the Tiger in the Chinese calendar.
Without urgent action, the ITC warns, there may not be wild tigers when the Year of the Tiger comes around again in 12 years.
The Siberian Tiger Monitoring Program is coordinated by the Wildlife Conservation Society and a number of Russian non-governmental organizations and government agencies, including Wildlife Alliance’s Russian partner, the Phoenix Fund, and Russian protected area staff and members of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
For more information, please contact:
Sergei Bereznuk, Director, Phoenix Fund, Vladivostok, Russia
+7 4232 205053 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Zwirn, Director of U.S. Operations, Wildlife Alliance, Washington, DC
+1 202-223-6350 or +1 202-315-8976, email@example.com
Wildlife Alliance is an international conservation organization whose mission is to protect and preserve wildlife, forests and oceans for future generations. Our field operations, formerly carried out under the name WildAid, train and equip park rangers to fight crimes against nature, and prevent poaching and illegal habitat destruction in Southeast Asia, Latin America, Russia and the Western Pacific through collaboration with governments and communities. We improve the management of protected areas, support sustainable development initiatives, and empower countries to enforce transboundary wildlife regulations. For more information, please visit http://www.wildlifealliance.org.