The strategic formation of Panthera’s new Tigers Forever ‘Task Force’ composed of some of the world’s most preeminent, international tiger scientists, has instilled new hope for this endangered big cat. Coupled with the Panthera–Save the Tiger Fund (STF) strategy for saving tigers (Tigers Forever), this growing team of specialists comprises leading experts in technology, law enforcement, human-tiger conflict mitigation, biological monitoring, environmental policy, and tiger ecology, who have been assembled to aim a blow torch on the tigers greatest threats.
Never has this team been needed more so than now. Numbering in the tens of thousands at the beginning of the 20th century, current estimates place the world’s wild tiger population as hovering below 3,200 individuals. Inhabiting less than 7% of its historic range, the tiger has experienced the greatest range collapse of any large cat and is now one of the most endangered large mammals on the planet.
The greatest threats to tigers are habitat loss, overhunting of tiger prey by humans, and direct poaching of tigers for their skins and body parts that are sold on illegal wildlife markets throughout southeast Asia.
Despite their precarious future tigers can still be saved. Panthera has recently hired renowned tiger scientist and conservationist, Dr. John Goodrich as the Senior Tiger Program Director to help steer the Task Force, who will provide technical expertise to field sites across Asia. Goodrich joins Panthera’s ranks with 25 years of experience on applied research on carnivore biology and conservation specifically on the Amur, or Siberian, tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), monitoring populations and threats, managing human-carnivore conflict and carnivore capture/anesthesia. He has spent significant time training young conservationists, and has authored/co-authored over 80 scientific and 40 popular articles on tigers, Amur leopards, Asian black bears, brown bears, and Eurasian lynx. “He is one of the world’s leading and most accomplished tiger biologists and a terrific asset to our team,” Rabinowitz says.
In addition to providing technical expertise in protecting and monitoring tiger populations, Panthera will provide grants, through the STF-Panthera collaboration, to support conservation efforts by local and international partners to carry out the Tigers Forever strategy. Panthera’s Tiger Task Force will be visiting existing and future Tigers Forever sites, providing assistance, and ensuring that partners are carrying out the needed activities to achieve their shared and larger goal of securing a future for tigers.
In 2006, Dr. Rabinowitz, in collaboration with Panthera’s Board member, J. Michael Cline, and a group of the world’s foremost experts on tigers from the Wildlife Conservation Society, including Goodrich, launched the Tigers Forever program to increase tiger numbers at key sites by 50% over ten years.
This announcement of Panthera’s Tiger Task Force comes at the heels of the 6th annual Tigers Forever meeting held in Bangkok and attended by a suite of partners from the Wildlife Conservation Society, Fauna & Flora International, Zoological Society of London, Aaranyak, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the American Museum of Natural History and other organisations. This annual conference convenes groups who are utilising the Tigers Forever strategy, or who wish to do so, to analyse the most recent findings on tiger populations, share conservation strategies, milestones and challenges and strategically prioritise what is needed on the ground, now, to save tigers.
View Panthera’s Tiger Infographic.
Panthera, founded in 2006, is the world’s leading organisation devoted exclusively to the conservation of wild cats and their ecosystems. Utilising the expertise of the world’s premier cat biologists, Panthera develops and implements global conservation strategies for the largest, most imperiled cats — tigers, lions, jaguars, and snow leopards. Representing the most comprehensive effort of its kind, Panthera works in partnership with local and international NGOs, scientific institutions, local communities and governments around the globe.
Launched in 2006 after decades of continuing tiger declines, Tigers Forever is changing the face of tiger conservation. Tigers Forever makes a unique commitment to increase tiger numbers at key sites by at least 50% over a 10-year period by relentlessly attacking the most critical threats to tigers — poaching of tigers and their prey. Utilising rigorous science to maintain constant vigilance on conservation efforts and on the tiger itself, this transformative program is the only one of its kind to guarantee success — the recovery of the wild tiger.
The above news item is reprinted from materials available at Panthera. Original text may be edited for content and length.
(Source: Panthera press release, 12.09.2012)