13 nations pledge to double tiger population by 2022

Last Updated: Wed, Jul 14, 2010 08:50 hrs

, July 14 (DPA) Thirteen nations, including India, Wednesday agreed to step up their conservation efforts with the aim of doubling the wild tiger population by 2022, officials said.

Officials and conservationists from the tiger-range countries met in the Indonesian resort island of Bali from Monday through Wednesday to hammer out plans to be discussed at the Tiger Summit in Russia in September.

'This meeting was crucial in that it gave more focus to conservation plans drawn up at previous meetings in Nepal and Thailand,' said Harry Santoso, director of biodiversity conservation at Indonesia's forestry ministry.

'We are confident that with concerted efforts, the global tiger recovery programme will be successful,' said Santoso, who also headed the Indonesian delegation.

The global wild tiger population has been reduced to an estimated 3,200 animals, including 400 Indonesian Sumatran tigers, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

They are being threatened by habitat fragmentation and destruction, loss of prey, poaching and illegal trade.

At the meeting, countries presented their national tiger recovery programmes and outlined commitments to meet the target of doubling wild tiger numbers by 2022.

The meeting also endorsed a draft declaration to be adopted by leaders at the Tiger Summit in Russia.

The proposed declaration stated that tiger conservation efforts are primarily a national responsibility but that 'financial and technical support of the international community' is still needed to save wild tigers.

It also called for increasing enforcement efforts to reduce the trafficking of tiger parts and to eradicate poaching and identifying and protecting key tiger habitats, such as breeding areas.

'Coming to this meeting and agreeing to some key plans represents a strong indication that these 13 governments are ready to make commitments and be held accountable for their efforts to save tigers and sets clear goals for how to do that,' said Michael Baltzer, leader of the WWF tiger programme.

'The outcomes of this meeting will provide a foundation for success at the Tiger Summit in Russia,' he said in a statement.

The 13 tiger-range countries are Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.

The countries' national plans were expected to cost more than $356 million for immediate implementation, the WWF said.

Indonesia would need $75 million to build 30 tiger recovery centres on Sumatra island, train personnel and improve management, Santoso said.

Some of the money would come from the national budget but financial support from donors countries and international conservation groups is needed, he said.

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