A rare Amur (Siberian) tiger was killed this week by poachers near Vladivostok, in the Russian Far East. The tiger was discovered by an IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) anti-poaching patrol in the Khasan district of Primorye Province. This area, bordering China, is home to the last 300 to 400 wild Amur tigers.
There are 13 countries in which tigers range, and those governments will convene at an International Tiger Conservation Forum to be held November 21-24 in St. Petersburg, Russia. The aim is to agree on a coordinated, global plan to save tigers from extinction and to mobilize global public opinion in favour of protection of tigers.
It's clear to tiger-watchers that this is the tiger's last chance to survive the illicit wildlife trade.
In 1994, Time Magazine ran a cover story on why the tiger is on the brink of extinction. The writers collaborating on the article asked this poignant question:
"The forces driving the black market are so strong that nothing — not public opinion, not political pressure, not the power of police — has halted the tiger's slide toward extinction. Can international trade sanctions against Asian nations succeed where all else has failed?"
There is an increasing and seemingly insatiable demand across Asia for tiger parts — including skins, bones, skulls and penises — destined for use in traditional Chinese medicines, decorations and even good luck charms.
An update on tiger poaching was published last week in a Time Magazine blog. There are now just 3,200 tigers left in the wild; down from over 100,000 a century ago.
What can you do to help save the tiger from extinction?
Begin by getting up to speed on the crisis.
I strongly recommend reading the best-selling book The Tiger by John Vaillant. It will give you a good overview of the tiger situation in Russia, where this latest poaching took place. Moreover, it's a page-turner and has a section at the end listing all the organizations and people involved in the work to save the tiger.
I also suggest following the Forum's progress online, as I will be doing, and writing a letter to the editor about this Forum. Blog about the outcome of the four-day meeting. Tweet the world asking for support.
Do whatever you can to mobilize public concern and raise the rallying cry. There are 3,200 lives, and one magnificent species at stake.
Photo credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/mdpettitt