For the last several years, thanks to groups like the World Wildlife Fund and celebs like Leonardo DiCaprio and Richard Branson, awareness on the plight of tigers and the efforts needed to save them has grown immensely.
Earlier last month, we heard how some of those concerted actions are paying off – in particular for Nepal where the tiger population has nearly doubled since 2009. “When you protect tiger habitats from deforestation and poachers, these big cats can make a comeback,” DiCaprio wrote on his Facebook page.
Yesterday, India received a pat on the back by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) for its “unprecedented commitment” to save the endangered tiger.
“India took responsibility for the tiger when it announced Project Tiger in 1972. By doing so it sent a clear message that the fate of the wild tiger was in its hands and India alone would be held accountable for their future,” the society said at the World Conservation Congress in Jeju, Korea yesterday.
“Today, while problems and challenges remain, India remains committed to ensuring that tigers are conserved effectively within its boundaries,” it added in a statement.
A nationwide census carried out in 2011 estimated a total of 1,706 tigers up from 1,411 from the previous count in 2007.
While the WCS used India as a bright spot, it sadly had little other good news to share with members. Of particular concern is the fate of the Orangutan, which faces massive habitat loss due to an increase in palm oil plantations. Asian rhinos, giant river turtles, Mekong giant catfish, and Asian Vultures were also singled out as on the brink of extinction.
The Society said that while the situation for these species – and others – remains bleak, Asian countries do possess the ability and financial means to stage a comeback.
“As in the United States, it will not be the species themselves deciding which fork to take, but actions of humans using the three Rs: recognition, responsibility and recovery – recognizing the problem, taking responsibility for solving it, and putting species back on the path to recovery”, said WCS President and CEO Dr. Cristián Samper.