China tiger lead

Original source, credits text and photograph

Hong Kong – Asia Times

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Less than a decade ago, the 13 nations where tigers still lived free met in St Petersburg, Russia, and pledged to reverse this majestic cat’s long prowl toward extinction at the hands of human predators. The moment was hailed as historic – the start of an unprecedented undertaking spearheaded by the tiger-range states and supported by a number of partners that included the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility, the United States, Germany and non-governmental organizations including WWF.

Their simple-sounding but ambitious goal was to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger on the Chinese lunar calendar. In 2010, it was estimated there were as few as 3,200 tigers remaining in the wild.

Commentary

WWF, the Worldwide Fund for Nature, is a leading conservation NGO and hardly speaks out against tiger farming.

One is because WWF helped China starting its farming, with delivering pure Amur tigers from US zoos (in cooperation with WCS). Another reason is that WWF can’t raise its voice against China as it is affraid to lose its permit to work there – jeopardizing all their work.

Now one of the WWF-employees speaks out against China, but still very diplomatic. It calls for China to take the lead in fighting the tiger trade.

In the article the St Petersburg conference is mentioned. An historic moment for tiger conservation. WWF was the co-organizor of the Global Tiger Initiative and everybody expected that the subject of tiger farming would be on the agenda.

But is was not. China blocked this. And WWF agreed upon it – for obvious reasons.

Now – 9 years late – WWF is making a U-turn.

What would be the reason?

Wildlife crime

The UNODC released a report this month that said the number of wildlife trafficking seizures in Myanmar is considerably lower than those made elsewhere in the Mekong sub-region but the country is an increasingly important transit point for the illicit wildlife trade.

From 2013 to 2017, officials seized 34 shipments of pangolin scales and other parts, totalling more than 1.2 tonnes.

Myanmar also has a modest illegal trade in elephant skin, which is often found for sale in popular markets in special economic zones such as Mine Lar and Tachileik in Shan State.

 

Kaziranga tiger

An evaluation report on India’s tiger reserves has put the spotlight on an alleged nexus between some officials of Kaziranga National Park and poachers.

Kaziranga, a World Heritage Site designated by UNESCO, is more popular as the world’s best address for the one-horned rhino. It is also been a major tiger reserve covering an area of 1,080 sq km.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier this week released the management effectiveness evaluation reports for tiger reserves across the country, including Kaziranga.

Tiger teeth

Officials in Kolkata seized elephant tusks weighing about 12 kilograms and tiger teeth, worth over Rs. 1 crore, on Tuesday. Three people have been arrested.

A team of officers of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence arrested a woman with two pieces of elephant tusk weighing over 4 kilograms. The woman had smuggled the animal parts from Assam and was about to hand over to her husband, the mastermind of the smuggling ring.

“DRI officers busted a syndicate involved in smuggling of elephant tusks and tiger teeth. About 12 kgs of elephant tusks and five pieces of tiger teeth cumulatively valued at 1.147 crore were recovered. Three persons were arrested,” a statement from the agency said.

TCM

World Animal Protection has completed its first ever global, multiple-country examination of the supply chain feeding the insatiable demand for big cat products, such as tiger bone wine and traditional medicines.

Such products are popular in Asia despite the fact they have no proven medical benefits, and this study highlights the grave danger that animals such as lions and tigers, face as a result.

The organization’s research exposes how big cat farms are harvesting lions in South Africa and tigers in Asia to feed demand, as well as investigating attitudes towards these products from those who consume them.

EU tigers

The EU on Monday launched a €10 million ($11.14 million) project for strengthening government actions to combat wildlife trade in the Greater Mekong, Malaysia and China.

The ‘Partners against Wildlife Crime’ initiative seeks to “disrupt the illicit supply chains of wildlife from source to market in the Greater Mekong Region, Malaysia and China by leveraging civil society partnerships to increase the effectiveness of Government action,” said an EU press release released at a seminar in Hanoi on Monday, the International Tiger Day.

The joint effort the World Conservation Society (WCS) and Pan Nature started in January 2019 and will last until December 2022, the organizers said at the seminar, which was also to review Vietnam’s tiger conservation efforts.

The EU is putting €8 million into the project, while the rest will come from the other partners.

 

Future for tigers uncertain

An adult tiger from Pilibhit Tiger Reserve in Uttar Pradesh brutally beaten to death by villagers on July 24; 12 tigers dying due to electrocution in last 2.5 years and 5 tigers being poisoned to death in last six months in Maharashtra alone.

These are just indicators about the threats tigers face and also raises doubts whether conservation is heading in right direction. Even if figures released by Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), a NGO working for wildlife law enforcement, are considered, there is spurt in tiger body parts seizures indicating rise in poaching. In 2018, of the 104 tiger deaths recorded in India, 43 were unnatural including 34 due to poaching, 4 shot dead or killed by villagers and 3 dying in accidents.

“Till July 25 this year, 76 tiger deaths have been recorded, more than 70% of the total deaths in 2018. These include 31 due to poaching,” says Tito Joseph, programme coordinator of WPSI. The figures indicate that the highest-tiger-holding status with India is itself a challenge for tiger conservation.

The county’s tiger habitats are under critical conditions facing tremendous anthropogenic as well as development pressure as a result of which tigers are killed in human attacks, poaching, human-centric acts and linear projects. “Tigers could not even adopt natural behaviour for survival or avoid internal specie competition due to loss of large natural forest cover.

Even fragmented forest patches are hardly available for their survival. This is the biggest challenge India faces to manage tiger populations,” says Prafulla Bhamburkar, coordinator of Maharashtra, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI). This year, Maharashtra lost 15 tigers, of which 6 deaths were due to poisoning (3 in Chimur) and 3 due to body parts seizure after electrocution in Bhandara district. The state is second to neighbouring Madhya Pradesh which lost 17 tigers in last 7 months.

Myanmar tige swimmingr

In 1903, a tigress prowling in the vicinity of Shwedagon Pagoda was shot and killed by a British soldier – an indication that there used to be plenty of tigers in Myanmar.

However, the country’s tiger population is decreasing and there are many difficulties in preserving the species.

The difficulty in preserving tigers is that there is an illegal wildlife market, shrinking habitat, and less food for tigers in the jungle,” said U Paing Soe, project manager of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

The tigers are protected under the Biodiversity and Conservation of Protected Areas Law in Myanmar. Those convicted of poaching, killing, hurting, collecting and trading tigers face three to 10 years in prison.

However, there is a thriving black market for tiger products in Asia, including Myanmar, according to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNOC).

Striped lion

When the Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP) was rolled out in 2010, it announced the exigency and intent in rather dramatic terms.

The programme, endorsed in the St Petersburg Declaration on Tiger Conservation, was billed as the “last best hope for tigers”. Inaction could lead to extinction of the “world’s most magnificent species”, the programme’s executive summary had warned. Nine years into the ambitious programme, designed over the period between 2010 and 2022, the intent appears to have translated to a rise in the number of big cats in India, one of the 13 Tiger Range Countries (TRCs) in the GTRP.

The TRCs’ shared goal of doubling the number of tigers globally by 2022 could still be viewed as unrealistic but conservationists see in these numbers a possibility to optimise ongoing efforts — in restoring a depleted prey base, reviving habitats, building new resources for site-specific strategies and more crucially, in improving protection of forests with minimal conflict.

Y V Jhala, scientist at the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India, sees in the task for 2022 a “good target for politicians” to work toward and feels that the post-2010 thrust has, despite setbacks in some of the TRCs, had impressive returns. The senior scientist is working on the 2018 tiger census, a project that monitors the status of tigers, co-predators, prey and their habitat in India. The report is scheduled to be released by the end of July.

China tigers

China is using cutting-edge technologies including Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data to monitor endangered Amur tigers and leopards, experts said at the International Forum on Tiger and Leopard Transboundary Conservation in Harbin, Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province on Sunday.

“Infrared cameras, AI and big data have helped us improve the establishment of a database of Amur tigers and leopards,” Jiang Guangshun, a deputy director of the Natural Forestry and Grassland Administration (NFGA), said at the forum.

“For example, the infrared camera can detect the tiger, and then AI will help analyze the tiger species, the weight and height, which will be marked in the database.”

Jiang noted the number of Amur tigers and leopards is increasing under the protection of China.

Daily Star tiger

Research estimates there are fewer than 4,000 of the big cats left in the wild. A century ago there were around 80,000.

The crisis is blamed on poachers and trophy hunters. Economic development is also a major factor in their decline because it ruins their habitat.

Campaigner Martin Hughes-Games has been studying the tiger count in India, which accounts for 60% of those left.

He said: “India is a country that’s industrialising incredibly fast. There are roads and railway lines and industries everywhere you look.

Malayan tiger under threat

Recently a tiger walked down the main thoroughfare of Kampung Besul (video here), a village in the north coastal state of Terengganu, sending villagers fleeing in all directions. The cat, dubbed the “friendly tiger” because it did no one any harm, later died of canine distemper disorder, which probably explains why it “went tame” and strolled through the town.

Malaysia is one of the most biodiverse countries on earth, and the rain forests of Peninsular Malaysia, along with those of southern Thailand, are the oldest on the planet. If anything, the death of the cat is emblematic of the peril to the country’s quickly-vanishing wildlife as urbanization, poachers and other problems eat into not just the tigers’ habitat but create a wide range of problems for other species as well.

The spread of canine distemper disorder into the wild cat population is very bad news on its own. A deadly virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous system, it is often spread to wild cats and dholes – wild dogs — in Asia from the feces left behind from hunting dogs and domesticated dogs which wander into wildlife habitat. According to another report, two tigers were seen prowling around the village, with a pregnant woman claiming a big cat chased her for 300 meters while she was riding her motorbike. Apparently one of the two was caught, later dying of distemper. The other escaped. It is still being sought.

Changsha customs

Customs of Changsha, capital of central China’s Hunan Province, announced Tuesday that they have busted a smuggling case and seized 450 grams of products made from endangered animals.

The products were discovered in the luggage of a Chinese passenger who arrived at the Changsha Huanghua International Airport from Hong Kong in late June. The passenger previously worked in South Africa.

The products were withheld by the customs officials and later confirmed as made of pangolin scales and tiger bones. This is the first time tiger bones have been seized at the airport.

Indian protests

On the morning of 18 July, Rafiqul Islam, a resident of Bagori, on the western fringes of Kaziranga National Park, was surprised to find a tiger sitting on his bed. Islam, who is used to wild animals around his shack didn’t panic and his presence of mind avoided a fatal encounter. An ‘SOS’ call from him got the Assam Forest Department and the animal rescue team from International Fund for Animal Welfare – Wildlife Trust Of India (IFAW-WTI) to sanitise the area and provide a safe passage to the tiger, which moved out on its own later in the day.

The photograph of a Bengal Tiger resting on a floral-print bed sheet, it’s head next to a carry bag with the words ‘Billion Choice’ is the defining image of this year’s floods in Kaziranga – of what happens to wild animals on the move in times of trouble. Clicked by Samshuli Ali, veterinarian at the IFAW-WTI, the picture has gone viral across social media platforms and is still trending across the world.

Floods are usually associated with loss of life and business, yet they are also part of a natural process that creates fertile lands for agriculture, replenishes wetlands and riverine grassland ecosystem. Floodwaters of the river Brahmaputra are key to the ecology of Kaziranga. Annual flooding revitalises the famed grasslands, which shelter keystone species such as rhinos, tigers and elephants.

Madhya Pradesh tiger

David Hanson tigers

White tiger cub smuggled

Tiger skins

Myanmar tiger

Tiger bone

Tiger clickbait

Tigers in the USA

White tiger cub pick up

Tiger bone ointments

Tiger selfies

Tiger farm tiger

Malayan tiger population

Poachers OF TIGERS

New Jersey tiger

Manas tiger