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Paw prints to double by 2022

The five day international tiger summit held at St. Petersburg has adopted the Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP), outlining a 12–year program estimated at 350 million dollars. India along with China is expected to be a key player in the drive to save tigers.

World Bank’s President Robert Zoellick announced that keeping in view that year 2010 is the Year of the Tiger according to the Chinese calendar, ‘we have organized the tiger summit to adopt the Tiger Recovery Program aimed to unite the efforts (of the various nations) and provide for efficient cooperation…The main goal is to make tiger conservation a part of social-economic strategy.’

On 21 November, 13 Tiger Range Countries (TRC) had signed the accord, which aims at doubling the number of the tigers by 2022. They have also agreed to preserve and enhance the tiger habitats and investigate the cases related to poaching and illicit trade in tiger pelts and their body parts.

The money for the program will be allocated from the national budget of the 13 participating nations. Poor nations such as Laos, Bangladesh and Nepal, among the 13 nations may have to depend on sizable donations.

Addressing the workshop, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said, “I welcome the consultative knowledge-based process undertaken by Global Tiger Initiative (GTI) which has brought all Tiger Range Countries on a single platform of knowledge based action… India is happy to share its expertise and work with the Bank on further enhancing the capacity of Indian wildlife institutions working with global leaders on this agenda.”

Russia is at the lead of the 13 TRCs due to their prior successful efforts of increasing the number of big cats in the recent decades. Dr. Efransjah, head of World Wildlife Fund Indonesia, said following the example of Russia, which ‘with strong political will and good implementation increased the tiger population’ by five times ‘from about 100 tigers in the 1960s to 500 tigers [today]’ the aim to double the global tiger population was not out of reach.

Tiger poaching has increased drastically over the years. The number of tigers has plunged approximately 95 percent over the past century from an estimated 100,000. The remaining 3,200 tigers are under threat of extinction. Deforestation and construction of buildings have caused the destruction of a large number of tiger habitats. Moreover, tiger skins and body parts are of great value in traditional medicine across Asia, especially in China.

This news comes as a change in the policies of the World Bank as most of its prior projects have been criticized for the destruction of numerous natural and wildlife habitats and causing damage to the ecosystem.

Organized by Environment Ministry, the workshop was also attended by representatives from TRC such as Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam. These countries were holding discussions for the past two years on the program.

— Swathi A

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