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Project C.A.T.+WWF: Double the Number of Tigers

by World Wildlife Fund - US
Project C.A.T.+WWF: Double the Number of Tigers
Project C.A.T.+WWF: Double the Number of Tigers
Project C.A.T.+WWF: Double the Number of Tigers
Project C.A.T.+WWF: Double the Number of Tigers
Project C.A.T.+WWF: Double the Number of Tigers
Project C.A.T.+WWF: Double the Number of Tigers
Project C.A.T.+WWF: Double the Number of Tigers
Project C.A.T.+WWF: Double the Number of Tigers
Project C.A.T.+WWF: Double the Number of Tigers
Project C.A.T.+WWF: Double the Number of Tigers
Project C.A.T.+WWF: Double the Number of Tigers
Project C.A.T.+WWF: Double the Number of Tigers
Dr Sanjay K Shukla / WWF-International
Dr Sanjay K Shukla / WWF-International

TX2 by 2022 Progress Update 

As 2022 approaches, so does the final year of the most ambitious recovery effort ever undertaken for a single species. TX2, the goal to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022, was a global commitment made in 2010 by 13 tiger range governments. Once over 100,000 strong, the wild tiger population was believed to be down to just 3,200 in 2010. WWF supports and advises these governments in achieving this goal which is vital in ensuring a future for tigers. This past Global Tiger Day – July 29, 2021 – was a perfect time to reflect on the efforts thus far as 2022, the Year of the Tiger according to the Chinese Lunar calendar, quickly approaches.  

While reflecting on the data over the last 11 years, it became clear that uneven progress has been made towards the goal. While some tiger range countries are seeing positive increases in population numbers due to political support, funding, and collaboration, other countries in Southeast Asia are experiencing challenges and tiger numbers continue to decrease. 

Success Stories  

Major conservation progress is occurring in countries such as Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, and Russia where tiger numbers are increasing. India has made impressive strides and announced recently that they have approved 14 new sites under the Conservation Assured Tiger Standards (CA|TS). This means that all tiger reserves are now CA|TS sites and have been approved by an international grading system for protected area management. This is a crucial milestone as India is home to over 60% of the world’s tigers. Nepal has also been successful in increasing tiger numbers by raising their political profile. The country has created national tiger committees which are chaired by the heads of government to keep tiger conservation in the forefront of political decisions. Russia has been able to triple populations numbers in their Land of the Leopard National Park by converting the park into a wildlife corridor and a main route for tigers to establish new territories.  

These examples give hope for saving tigers. Ginette Hemley, Senior Vice President for Wildlife Conservation WWF-US, writes that “We have proven recovery is achievable when governments, communities, conservation organizations and other partners work together.” These countries will continue in their efforts and can act as an example for countries across Southeast Asia.  

The Struggles Facing Southeast Asia  

Hunting and habitat loss have been drivers for tiger population declines across Asia for more than 100 years, and unfortunately continue to be a problem in countries across Southeast Asia including Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, and MalaysiaSpecifically, a snaring crisis, human-wildlife conflict, and the illegal wildlife trade have made it almost certain that these countries will enter 2022 with fewer tigers than they did in 2010.  

The snaring crisis continues to empty the forests of Southeast Asia of wildlife with an estimated 12 million snares on the ground across Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Vietnam. Tigers are extinct in each of these countries and unless strong action is taken, the same could happen in other areas of the region. Habitat loss from development, illegal logging, and expanding agriculture continue to threaten tigers but are not as devastating as the illegal trade for tigers and tiger parts. The demand for tiger products has led to an increase in tiger ‘farms’ where an estimated 8,000 tigers live in captivity in China, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. Between 2000 and 2018, an estimated 1,004 whole tigers were seized from traffickers across Southeast Asia. To fight this problem, WWF is calling on these governments to put an end to tiger farms and stop the trade of tiger parts from all sources.  

These statistics are bleak, but there is still an opportunity for change across Southeast Asia.  With increased government intervention, these countries can begin to turn things around and thankfully, the intersection of organized crime and illegal wildlife trade is gaining more political attention.  WWF Japan is hosting a dedicated ESG (Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance) and Illegal Wildlife Trade session with the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists at a conference this month for participants from Japan and the region. Stronger collaboration between governments, NGO’s and local communities will also be key.  Malaysia is beginning to see positive changes as anti-poaching patrols led by local communities has helped to reduce the number of active snares by 94%. Sophia Limm, Executive Director and CEO of WWF-Malaysia, acknowledges that this collaboration has reduced poaching in Malaysia and states that “We now need to scale this up across the country and match it with strong will and investment.” A combined effort from all parties can help recover the Southeast Asia tiger population.  

How You Can Help!  

In the face of tremendous threats to wild tigers’ survival, your support is helping to strengthen law enforcement and anti-poaching efforts and to slow deforestation in tiger habitats—all lending to our goal of doubling the number of tigers in the wild by 2022. Your commitment makes a difference in our work and sets an inspiring example that together, change is possible. Thank you! 

Gordon Congdon
Gordon Congdon
Rahul K Talegaonkar
Rahul K Talegaonkar

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Jim Jabara / WWF
Jim Jabara / WWF

Threat of Wildlife Trafficking

One way that WWF is helping to protect tigers is by continuously striving to end online wildlife trafficking. Wildlife trafficking, the second largest threat to species loss, affects tigers each day as they continue to be targeted because there is a demand for products made from their fur, claws, teeth, and bones as well as a demand for live tiger cubs. Other species such as elephants, pangolins, marine turtles, and many more are also killed for various products, or captured to be sold in the pet trade. Unfortunately, technology advances have heightened this problem as the communication link has been made easier between poacher and consumer. Now, with the click of a button, live animals and animal products can be illegally bought and sold directly on the internet. With just under 4,000 wild tigers left in the wild, putting an end to online wildlife trafficking is essential in protecting the remaining population.

Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online

To address this issue, WWF joined forces with NGO partners TRAFFIC and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and many of the world’s leading tech companies in 2018 to launch the Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online. The coalition aims to create an industry-wide approach to reducing wildlife trafficking online by implementing crucial policies, conducting staff trainings, and focusing on user education. By developing specialized action plans for each online platform the coalition believes that together they can work to reduce online wildlife trafficking by 80%.

What is the latest update?

The 2020 Annual Report shares that since its start in 2018, the coalition has grown to include 34 tech companies have joined the mission, from Google and Microsoft to eBay, Pinterest and Etsy. Together these tech companies have helped to remove 3,335,381 listings of endangered species off their platforms. They have flagged more than 4,500 wildlife products for sale, have trained more than 470 staff members and have engaged a potential user pool of 4.54 billion people. This success and the common alignment to policy is showing cybercriminals that direct action is being taken and is helping protect tigers each day.

How you can help!

You can help WWF protect tigers by continuing to support our project, and sharing it with your family, friends, and colleagues. Increasing awareness about the importance of being a conscious shopper and ensuring you are not purchasing animal products made from endangered species is crucial. You can also use our resources to identify illegal products and report them to the coalition for verification.  Together we can protect animal species and put an end to online wildlife trafficking!

https://www.endwildlifetraffickingonline.org/
https://www.endwildlifetraffickingonline.org/
Nitish Madan / WWF-International
Nitish Madan / WWF-International

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DoFSC/WWF Nepal
DoFSC/WWF Nepal

Tiger spotted at record-high elevation in Nepal

New camera trap images reveal the highest-elevation sighting of a tiger in Nepal, captured at over 8,000 feet in a densely forested area. The images were taken by one of the 32 pairs of cameras set up in the Dadeldhura district in western Nepal as part of a month-long survey conducted by the Divisional Forestry Office and WWF Nepal. The survey built upon results from a 2017 survey conducted by the Terai Arc Landscape Program, which confirmed the presence of an individual tiger in lower elevations1,598 feet—in Dadeldhura.

Why is this significant?

This first-ever recorded evidence of a tiger at this high of an elevation in Nepal supports the notion that high-altitude habitats may provide refuge for tigers and help connect their territory between Nepal and India. The finding also expands Nepal’s known tiger distribution from the Terai Arc Landscape, widening opportunities for potential tiger habitats including the use of high-altitude areas.  

“We know that tigers are highly adaptable and have been documented at various altitudes in different landscapes, but in this case, it is important to find out why,” said Nilanga Jayasinghe, senior program officer for Asian Species Conservation. “These images are especially significant because they point to the importance of natural corridors that provide safe dispersal pathways between protected areas for tigers and other wildlife.” 

The Government of Nepal’s flagship Terai Arc Landscape Program has already restored many such connectivity bottlenecks to make the landscape functional, recognizing that the main threat to wild tigers in the Terai Arc is habitat loss and fragmentation. Still, more needs to be done to ensure those landscapes stay connected in the future.

What's next?

Maintaining and restoring key wildlife corridors is essential to expanding tiger populations, but increasing threats from infrastructure development is fragmenting these key habitats. WWF is working with policymakers, companies, and investors to improve sustainable approaches to infrastructure planning and construction to ensure consideration is given to important wildlife passages and crossing points into protected landscapes. Sustainable infrastructure is not only beneficial to tigers and other wildlife, but also important to socio-economic growth, particularly to the rural areas and local communities, and for maintaining functional habitats, ecosystem services, and climate resilience.

What you can do to help

Your continued support means the world to tiger survival.  Please share our project with your colleagues, friends, and family.

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Silence of the Snares: Southeast Asia's Snaring Crisis

In previous updates we have shared encouraging news about the progress some countries have made in increasing the number of tigers, such as India and Bhutan. But countries in Southeast Asia continue to face challenges. Just last month, WWF issued a report on the surge of the snaring crisis in SE Asia that is threatening the survival of not only tigers, but countless other species as well.

Snares are contributing to a wildlife extinction crisis, while also impacting ecosystems that support human well-being across Southeast Asia. Usually made from wire cable, nylon, or rope, snares are rudimentary traps used to supply the demand for wildlife meat and products. Snares have often been singled out as one of the cruelest means of hunting, given that animals can sometimes languish for days or weeks in a snare before dying from their injuries, dehydration or from starvation. Even when an animal does escape a snare, it will often perish later from infection caused by the injury or starve due to the fact that the injury has limited its ability to walk, forage or hunt.

Between 2005 and 2019 more than 370,000 snares were removed by patrol rangers from just 11 protected areas in five countries. As to the task of snare removal alone (i.e. ignoring any deterrent effects) there are three main constraints that currently limit the overall impact of using government rangers for this task. These are; i insufficient numbers of government rangers in many parts of Southeast Asia; ii) the low detectability of snares; and iii) the low cost of snare replacement. As such, in the majority of high snare density landscapes government ranger patrols alone will fall well short of removing the majority of snares.

Drivers of the Snaring Crisis

  • Increased demand for wildlife meat from growing urban middle-class consumers in East and Southeast Asia 
  • Increased accessibility into previously remote protected areas due to infrastructure developments (e.g. roads, hydropower) – this enables hunters to access such areas more easily and allows for the rapid transport of wildlife back to urban areas.
  • Increased access to and use of wire cable and rope snares by poachers, as opposed to the more traditional liana and rattan.
  • Gaps in wildlife protection legislation in relation to snaring, as well as inconsistent enforcement of existing wildlife protections and protected areas laws.

The Connection Between Snares and Zoonotic Diseases

  • Snare use increases human exposure to species carrying zoonotic diseases. Many of the animals targeted by snaring have been identified as among the highest risk for zoonotic disease transmission. A zoonosis is an infectious disease caused by a pathogen – such as a virus or bacteria – that has jumped from an animal host to a human. These account for a large proportion of overall diseases experienced by humans:
  • Snaring and handling wildlife increase the likelihood of zoonotic disease spillover: zoonotic diseases become more probable in situations where close contact between humans and wildlife increases.
  • The quickening pace of habitat destruction and fragmentation in recent years is one way in which this proximity has been increased.
  • Considerable increases in global trade and urban consumption of wildlife is another.
  • Models created to predict areas at elevated risk for zoonotic disease emergence have identified high risk in South and Southeast Asia, where all the above drivers are prevalent.

Hope for the Future

While we continue to address the snaring crisis and protect iconic species, we need governments to continue to tighten controls.  The increased awareness and publicity around the connection between zoonoses and wildlife trade and consumption can foster an environment for needed change. On July 23, 2020, Vietnam announced a new Directive No. 29 as part of the country’s efforts to prevent future pandemics and halt further loss of Vietnam’s declining wildlife populations.

Closing down illegal wild animal markets and high risk locales that illegally sell wild animals; planning for ivory and rhino horn stockpile destruction; stricter control and management of farmed wild animals including tiger farming; a temporary ban on the import of wild animal specimens; and reviewing and revising the legal system in relation to enforcement mechanisms for illegal consumption of wild animal specimens are some of the key highlights of the Directive. These changes, if implemented effectively, could signal a major U-turn in wildlife conservation in Vietnam.

The Directive is a timely response from the Prime Minister of Viet Nam recognizing the potential threat of the next pandemic if no urgent actions are taken to address the environmental factors driving the emergence of zoonotic diseases in which the hunting, trade and consumption of high-risk wildlife is one of the biggest drivers. This signifies a step toward reducing threats to public health and the national economy, and helps secure a future for countless species threatened by high-risk wildlife trade and consumption in Vietnam and across the region.

What you can do to help

Your continued support means the world to tiger survival.  Please share our project with your colleagues, friends, and family.

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Anton Vorauer / WWF
Anton Vorauer / WWF

Dear Friend,

With each passing day, many millions of people learn to grapple with the new reality brought on by the global COVID-19 pandemic. All of us have seen our lives transformed by social distancing, a halt to public gatherings and conferences, and the mandatory closing of many businesses that our communities hold dear. We all continue to cope in our own ways, while also seeking to retain some sense of normalcy in this extraordinary time.

Our thoughts and gratitude go out to our partners, and to those providers on the front lines of essential services—doctors, nurses, health care workers, leading businesses and small business owners and individuals who ensure that our families can receive what they need.

And in the midst of these extraordinary times, the work of conservation goes on. WWF's far-flung network of programs around the world continues moving forward on our work, connecting with partners and each other via video conference apps and phone lines. We are re-imagining how we deliver against our mission in these unprecedented circumstances. And in the best way we can, we continue our work with governments and institutions and other partners to safeguard landscapes and protected areas that are fundamental to the provision of food, water, and livelihoods to some of the most fragile communities around the world. We are learning to navigate a new normal, and extending each other the kindness and flexibility we all need right now to keep momentum going in our work.

This is also a moment when we even more profoundly realize the connections between nature and human health. Questions remain about the exact origins of COVID-19, but the World Health Organization has confirmed it is a zoonotic disease, meaning it jumped from wildlife to humans.

This comes as no surprise. Many recent disease outbreaks, including SARS and Ebola, followed this same arc. A confluence of human expansion, vanishing natural habitat, and climate change has driven people and wildlife into closer proximity, increasing the risk of outbreaks like this. The global illegal wildlife trade, which finances the killing and consumption of hundreds of thousands of animals each year, has long been seen as a potential accelerator for the spread of infectious diseases to people.

As we respond to this crisis, it's imperative to take measures to prevent one root cause of potential future pandemics. Some obvious first steps include the following. Governments should commit to shutting down the illegal wildlife trade and back it up with meaningful enforcement measures. We all need to take robust steps to reduce consumer demand for illegal and unsustainable wildlife products. To that end, WWF is partnering with public and zoonotic health experts to build a coalition advocating for the immediate and permanent closure of illegal and unregulated wildlife markets throughout Asia.

Tigers and Illegal Wildlife Trade

A vast majority of these captive tigers are privately owned and living in people’s backyards, roadside attractions, and private breeding facilities. Often these facilities will allow public contact with the tigers, including photo ops and playtimes with tiger cubs. Not only is the welfare of these tigers compromised, but public health and safety is at risk during these encounters. More centralized oversight of US captive tigers is required to ensure that they can’t feed the illegal trade that threatens wild tigers and to ensure adequate welfare of individual animals and public safety.

These endangered big cats are largely unregulated by the federal government, making it impossible to know who owns them, when they're sold and traded, or what happens to their valuable parts when they die. Without this information, the United States is unable to ensure that its captive tiger population isn't feeding the illegal trade that remains the primary threat to the estimated 3,900 tigers remaining in the wild.

In April 2016, more than 450,000 WWF supporters called on the US government to tighten regulations around captive tigers and made it more difficult for these animals to filter into and bolster the illegal wildlife trade.

Although this was a significant win for tigers, the new rules protect some tigers and not others, and remaining legal loopholes leave captive tigers vulnerable to wildlife traffickers and the international trade in tiger parts—the same trade that is the primary threat to wild tigers.

It is critical that the US, a consistent leader in wildlife conservation, clean up our own backyard to ensure our tigers don’t contribute to illegal trade and to ensure the US can continue to be an effective and influential voice in tiger conservation.

The Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R. 1380) introduced to Congress in February 2019, would go a long way towards ensuring that the U.S. is minimizing its risk of contributing to the illegal trade of tiger parts and products, primarily by requiring a federal license for ownership and banning public contact activities.

You can help. Here’s how.

WWF is calling for greater oversight and protection of all captive tigers, and you can help. Ask your member of Congress to cosponsor the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which would help ensure that the US does its part to fight against illegal tiger trade.

Additionally, your continued support means the world to tiger survival.  Please share our project with your colleagues, friends and family. In the face of tremendous threats to wild tigers’ survival, your support is helping to strengthen law enforcement, anti-poaching efforts and slow deforestation in tiger habitats—all lending to our goal of doubling the number of tigers in the wild by 2022. Your commitment makes a difference in our work and sets an inspiring example that together, change is possible. Thank you.

James Warwick / WWF-US
James Warwick / WWF-US
James Warwick / WWF-US
James Warwick / WWF-US

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World Wildlife Fund - US

Location: Washington, DC - USA
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Twitter: @world_wildlife
Project Leader:
Cheron Carlson
Washington, DC United States
$52,545 raised of $100,000 goal
 
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