Pledge to double tiger population
Published: 30/01/2010 at 12:00 AM
Senior officials from 13 Asian countries have committed to double tiger populations in the wild by 2022.
Seven ministers and six senior officers yesterday adopted the Hua Hin Declaration on Tiger Conservation at the First Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation, held in Prachuap Khiri Khan.
The declaration includes preserving and expanding tiger habitats, improving policing of the illegal wildlife trade and sourcing financing for the programme.
Over 100 delegates attended the three-day meeting which ended yesterday and was being held in the run up to a global tiger summit in Russia in September.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti said Thailand joined other "tiger-range" nations to co-operate on conservation efforts with the aim of increasing the tiger population in the country from 2.3 tigers per 100 square kilometres to five by 2022.
"We plan to expand the western forest complex to provide tigers with a bigger habitat," he said.
Thailand also proposed establishing a so-called "Tiger Council" as a co-ordinating centre on tiger conservation.
Delegates adopted the proposal and plan to discuss the matter in more detail at their next meeting, which is expected to be held in Indonesia this June.
Mr Suwit said he was hopeful the multinational co-operation would lead to the better protection of tigers roaming in border areas.
Signatories of the Hua Hin Declaration on Tiger Conservation agreed to launch campaigns to tackle the demand for tiger body parts and to build support for the initiative to increase the number of tigers living in the wild.
They also agreed to crack down on and, if possible, eliminate the illegal supply of tigers and tiger body parts through more effective legislation and law enforcement at both the national and international level.
Financing for the initiatives would be sourced by mobilising domestic funding, including new mechanisms based on forest carbon financing, as well as seeking support from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.
Lixin Huang, president of the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, said China had taken great efforts to stop the illegal tiger trade by banning the use of tiger bones in traditional medicines since 1993.
China is a major destination for trafficked wildlife where the animals typically end up being served as exotic dishes in restaurants or being used in traditional medicines. The Chinese government has been working with NGOs to educate the public that tiger bones had no medicinal benefit, despite traditional beliefs.
"Please do not point your fingers at China," said Ms Huang. "The rapidly declining tiger population is not only caused by poaching, but also by dramatically decreasing habitats."
She called for legal action to be taken against the illegal wildlife trade in Cambodia, Burma, Laos and Thailand. The global wild tiger population has declined to just 3,200 worldwide from 100,000 a century ago.