Countries with wild tiger populations have agreed to do more to protect tiger habitats that are shrinking drastically because of deforestation and urban sprawl.
The world’s tiger countries are all in Asia: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Nepal, Malaysia, Myanmar, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam. India has the most by far, with about 2,500 tigers. None of the countries have more than 500 and some have just a few.
Representatives from the 13 Asian countries with tigers, met last week in New Delhi and issued a resolution acknowledging that the forests in which tigers live are inherently valuable themselves and worthy of protection.
These forests can help preserve economic growth by safeguarding water supplies, improving air quality and providing homes for not only tigers but also birds, frogs and other mammals.
Many of the countries have growing human populations and fast-developing economies. “Before, there’s always been this conflict of development versus conservation, as if countries had to choose,” said Sejal Worah, the program director for World Wildlife Fund in India.
“But in this resolution, it clearly states that natural capital is important to the economy of a country,” she said. “Countries understand that preserving tiger habitats does not compromise growth. And that’s important. That’s new.”
India is home to about two-thirds of the world’s wild tigers, also agreed to strengthen controls against cross-border wildlife crimes, including trafficking in animals and animal parts such as tiger skins and bones and rhino horns.
WCCLAS News Staff