A United Nations-led alliance to fight wildlife crime and eliminate threats to wild cats around the world has pledged to double tiger numbers by 2022 in India and 12 other tiger range countries.
The alliance was formed this week at an international forum in St Petersburg, Russia on restoring the global tiger population from the brink of extinction, the UN news centre in UN announced. Heads of five major international agencies also discussed collective actions aimed at stopping the poaching, smuggling and illegal trade of tigers.
"Ending wildlife crime against tigers and other endangered species, particularly transnational trafficking, requires a coordinated global response," said the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, who underlined Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's "strong support" for the Tiger Forum.
"Thanks to our expertise based on UN standards and norms in crime prevention and criminal justice, combined with many years of experience helping States to fight crime, UNODC is well positioned to support the Tiger Range Countries," he added.
In 2009, tiger skins sold for up to $20,000 and bones retailed for up to $1,200 per kilogramme with UNODC estimating the total market value at about $5 million.
Over the last century, tiger numbers have plummeted from about 100,000 to less than 3,500 in the wild today, with three sub-species disappearing altogether and the remaining six at risk.
In order to boost tiger conservation efforts, UNODC teamed up with the World Customs Organization (WCO), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), INTERPOL, and the World Bank to establish the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC).
Aided by the ICCWC, the 13 Tiger Range Countries will implement the Global Tiger Recovery Programme which will target poaching, the illegal trade of tigers and habitat conservation, as well as create incentives for local people to protect the big cats.
"ICCWC sends a very clear message that a new era of wildlife law enforcement is upon us," said CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon. "Poaching and illegal trade have brought tigers close to the point of no return. Only if we work together, can we ensure that tigers will survive."
Besides India, other countries that have committed towards implementing the Global Tiger Recovery Programme are Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.