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Poach­ing still biggest threat to recov­ery of world’s tiger pop­u­la­tions, says WWF

pub­lished 23 Novem­ber 2012 | mod­i­fied 04 Decem­ber 2012
Tiger chopsSeri­ous gaps in pro­tec­tion are leav­ing tigers exposed to poach­ers, a new WWF study says, but this could be reversed if more invest­ments are made in staff, equip­ment, and train­ing pro­grams for rangers that are work­ing to pro­tect the scat­tered pop­u­la­tions of the endan­gered species in the wild. WWF released the find­ings of its sur­vey today to mark the 2nd anniver­sary of the his­toric St. Peters­burg Tiger Sum­mit, a high-​level meet­ing hosted by the Russ­ian Gov­ern­ment and World Bank that saw 13 tiger range gov­ern­ments pledge to dou­ble wild tiger num­bers from the cur­rent 3,200 to 6,000 plus by 2022 (TX2).
Cov­er­ing 135 crit­i­cal areas within the 12 land­scapes where WWF cur­rently sup­ports tiger con­ser­va­tion, the sur­vey found many of the sites remain poorly man­aged and under-​resourced and there­fore remain highly vul­ner­a­ble to poachers.

Poach­ing con­tin­ues to be the single-​most imme­di­ate threat to the sur­vival of the tiger in the wild and also the great­est bar­rier to achiev­ing the TX2 goal. If we don’t work as fast as pos­si­ble towards end­ing poach­ing in these places then we can­not trust that these last remain­ing pop­u­la­tions of tigers, and their prey, are safe for longer term recov­ery of this endan­gered species
(Mike Baltzer, leader of WWF’s Tigers Alive Ini­tia­tive)

The sur­vey also shows that the same sites are in dan­ger of becom­ing “paper parks”, i.e. parks that are legally pro­tected but are not being actively man­aged and pro­tected on the ground. Although 90% of the sites sur­veyed are legally pro­tected, less than half have protection-​specific man­age­ment plans (with the excep­tion of Rus­sia). Across South and South­east Asia only 12% of sites had the full num­ber of planned staff in place and over 50% were not trained or equipped to an ade­quate level.

“The report shows that while impor­tant gov­ern­ment com­mit­ments have been made, and much action has been accel­er­ated, we are still far from what is needed to estab­lish the very basics of tiger recov­ery,” Baltzer added.

Mov­ing for­ward: six ways to increase tiger num­bers

The sur­vey, con­ducted in 135 crit­i­cal sites for tiger recov­ery, assesses the lev­els of pro­tec­tion presently in place against poach­ing by exam­in­ing six key ele­ments related to effec­tive man­age­ment and pro­tec­tion against poach­ing: legal pro­tec­tion sta­tus, pro­tec­tion man­age­ment, effec­tive patrolling, intel­li­gence net­works, arrests and pros­e­cu­tions as well as train­ing and resources for field staff.

Invest­ments in these areas are needed to not only achieve Zero Poach­ing, but to demon­strate that the com­mit­ments made at the Sum­mit are being actively pur­sued and are evi­dent in the increased efforts to pro­tect tigers. WWF is com­mit­ted to Zero Poach­ing and will use the sur­vey results to help iden­tify gaps for future invest­ments.

Global Tiger Recov­ery Pro­gram and Cards4Tigers

At the 2010 Tiger Sum­mit, gov­ern­ments also endorsed the Global Tiger Recov­ery Pro­gramme, an amal­ga­ma­tion of national tiger con­ser­va­tion actions and global tar­gets towards meet­ing the TX2 goal. As a follow-​up to the Tiger Sum­mit, gov­ern­ment offi­cials met dur­ing the 2nd Asian Min­is­te­r­ial Con­fer­ence on Tiger Con­ser­va­tion con­ducted in Bhutan in Octo­ber 2012, where they com­mit­ted to tak­ing imme­di­ate and spe­cific action over the next year to strengthen pro­tec­tion.

Since the Tiger Sum­mit, WWF has been work­ing with gov­ern­ments, NGOs and pri­vate part­ners to find ways to improve the effec­tive­ness of ranger patrols through the devel­op­ment of law enforce­ment mon­i­tor­ing sys­tems across Asia, train­ing teams and key stake­hold­ers in the lat­est meth­ods in patrolling, pre­ven­tion and con­ser­va­tion. WWF is presently sup­port­ing pro­tec­tion field staff and rangers through the Tigers Alive Initiative’s “Cards4Tigers”.

The above news item is reprinted from mate­ri­als avail­able at WWF global. Orig­i­nal text may be edited for con­tent and length.
(Source: WWF News, 23.11.2012)
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Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.

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