WWF: Kathmandu workshop sets stage for Year of the Tiger 2010

Leading tiger experts, wildlife conservation charities, and representatives of governments of countries that have wild tiger ranges are meeting in Nepal this week to begin a global dialogue about the threats facing tigers as the world prepares to mark the Year of the Tiger in 2010, WWF says in a news statement.

Amur or Siberian tiger in a rehabilitation center for wild animals in the Russian Far East. - Photo © Vladimir Filonov / WWF-Canon

WWF and others are attending the Kathmandu Global Tiger Workshop, the first in a series before and during the Year of the Tiger, that brings together decisionmakers from tiger range countries, members of the World Bank’s Global Tiger Initiative, NGOs and the world’s leading tiger experts, the Switzerland-based conservation group said.

“They will discuss the specific actions required to halt the extinction of the tiger in the wild.”

“Tiger populations are still in steep decline and some estimates predict that tigers could be extinct in the wild by the next Year of the Tiger in 2022.”

“Wild tiger populations are at a tipping point,” WWF said. “While many important successes have been gained by the global conservation community, tiger populations are still in steep decline and some estimates predict that tigers could be extinct in the wild by the next Year of the Tiger in 2022.”

Indian tiger female in the Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan, India - Photo © Michel Terrettaz / WWF-Canon

The Kathmandu Global Tiger Workshop is hosted by the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, Government of Nepal, and co-organized and co-sponsored by the CITES Secretariat, Global Tiger Forum, Global Tiger Initiative, Save The Tiger Fund, and the World Bank.

WWF hopes to secure major political commitments for tiger conservation, through the series of political negotiation meetings occurring throughout the Year of the Tiger and leading up to a final Heads of State Tiger Summit in September 2010.

Indian Tiger, sitting, showing his back, Bangkok Zoo Thailand - Photo © Martin Harvey / WWF-Canon

Effective conservation of tigers can provide an umbrella for all biodiversity, according to the World Bank, which joined forces with conservation groups to launch the Tiger Conservation Initiative in 2008.

Tiger conservation is thus vital to the conservation of many other rare and threatened species, as well as to sustaining essential ecosystem-services that forests provide, such as watershed protection, soil conservation and carbon storage, the Bank says on its Web site.

The skins of Indochinese tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti) and other rare cats are openly displayed for sale in Cholon District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. October 2002. - Photo © Adam Oswell / WWF-Canon

“Despite their ecological significance, tiger populations are in decline,” the Bank adds.

“Tigers occupy only 7 percent of their historic range, and in the last decade their habitats have shrunk significantly. Within a century, wild tiger numbers have plunged from more than 100,000 to about 4,000 animals.

Clearing of tropical rainforest for paper industry, palm oil and other plantations in, Sumatra, Indonesia - Photo © WWF-Germany/M. Radday

“Tigers have already disappeared from Central Asia, Java and Bali in Indonesia, and most of China.

Indian tiger close-up, Bangkok Zoo, Thailand - Photo © Martin Harvey/WWF-Canon

“Habitat loss, combined with intense poaching of prey species and the illegal trade in tiger parts, has taken a severe toll, with entire populations eliminated from what were once considered secure reserves.”

From National Geographic

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