Friday, November 19, 2010

International Tiger Conservation Conference to be Held in St. Petersburg

Tiger in Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan, India
 The tiger has always been viewed as a symbol of power and beauty for countless generations. Unfortunately, this majestic creature has been facing the wrath of humanity through illegal poaching and the trade of its body parts. Conservation efforts had been made for many years, in order to save and protect the animal, yet rampant poaching and the illegal wildlife trade continues to take its toll. But now, it seems that there is a light of hope for the species' survival as representatives and politicians from thirteen Asian countries, including India, will be gathering in St. Petersburg on the 21st of November. The purpose of this global tiger summit will be to discuss various strategies and reach an agreement on how to protect the remaining 3,200 tigers left in the world with one goal in mind: to try to double the numbers by 2022. It is expected that the agreement will reach on November 23rd. Among the notable participants in this four-day conference will include Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, World Bank President Robert Zoellick, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, and even U.S Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The World Wildlife Fund states that this will be the first conference, in which world leaders will discuss the preservation of a single species. It has been estimated that $350 million are needed to increase the tigers' habitat and the fight against poachers and traders in tiger body parts.

Among the recent cases in tiger poaching include one in India's Sariska National Park, where a tiger was poisoned and one shot dead by poachers in eastern Russia. According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the penalties for tiger poachers remain mild and the perpetrators should receive a maximum of three years behind bars and a fine of $20,000. In addition to that, a research provided by the World Wildlife Fund and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) showed that the border region between Burma, Thailand, and China plays a major role in the illegal trade of tiger body parts. Also, a report was published by the World Wildlife Fund and wildlife trade monitoring group TRAFFIC saying that tiger body parts were being offered on black markets in the region, especially in parts of Burma where there is no direct government control.

I sure hope that the effect of this international conference will result in an increased protection for the world's tiger population, and intensify the battles against the poachers. According to Masha Vorontsova, director of IFAW Russia, the conference is the last chance for tigers. And I completely agree with that because I cannot see where the world will stand unless this meeting will turn to solid action and effective agreements to save the world's tiger population. Without the tiger, our world would change dramatically. However, I'm hopeful that the representatives from all thirteen Asian nations will come to an agreement to help save the world's tiger population. Also, with Ms. Hillary Clinton's presence, I hope that this will show how the U.S government will play a big role in pushing the conference forward.

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