Friday, November 19, 2010

Wildlife Conservation: Two Tigers Killed by Poachers, Poisoning on Eve of Global Summit

In the wake of a tiger poaching in Russia earlier this week, IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) reports that another wild tiger has been found dead of suspected poisoning in Sariska Tiger Reserve in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan.

The killings highlight the dire threats to this critically-endangered species as leaders of 13 tiger range countries prepare to convene in St. Petersburg, Russia from 21 to 24 November to agree on a new global plan to save tigers from extinction. Wild tiger populations around the world have declined by 97% in the past century, primarily due to habitat loss and poaching.

"This is a wake-up call for all tiger range countries as well as their supporters, and a grim reminder of the threats faced by wild tigers worldwide," said Vivek Menon, Regional Director – South Asia, International Fund for Animal Welfare and Executive Director, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI). "As leaders meet during the International Tiger Forum, we call for them to address the threats facing tigers and tackle the issue from the grassroots level."

The dead tiger was one of five Bengal tigers that were relocated to Sariska from Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in 2008, as part of a landmark attempt to restore the wild tiger population in the reserve after the last of its resident tigers was killed by poachers in 2004.

India, which is home to half of the world's remaining 3,000 wild tigers, has initiated a high-level inquiry into the tiger death. Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State for Environment and Forests, said the Indian government will act immediately to better monitor tigers in Sariska. To mitigate human-tiger conflict, the government will relocate some of the 28 villages and 10,000 people residing in the reserve. There are also plans to move another wild tiger to Sariska in the near future to increase the viability of the reintroduced population.

Earlier this week, a rare Amur (Siberian) tiger was killed by poachers in a protected reserve in the Russian Far East. IFAW's Khasan anti-poaching brigade arrested four suspected poachers, who face up to three years in prison and a USD $20,000 fine if convicted.

IFAW works on the front lines of tiger protection to build anti-poaching capacity, train rangers, secure habitat, and end all trade in tiger body parts and products.

Founded in 1969, IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare) saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats.

Source: International Fund for Animal Welfare