Global Tiger Day is ringed in every conservationist’s diary, a milestone event founded on July 29, 2010, when 13 nations with teetering big cat populations united to not just halt their demise but to double their numbers.
Hovering over this international call to arms remains the spectre of two tragic tiger extinctions in living memory.
The last Bali tiger vanished in the 1930s followed by the extirpation of the Javan tiger four decades later.
For extirpation, read extermination.
Colonial hunting, habitat destruction and local persecution wiped out both tiger races.
Deep amid the dense, volcanic forests of Sumatra, the extinct tigers’ closest living relative clings on to existence.
British taxpayers can stand proud that their hard-earned cash is funding projects to protect the last 400 Sumatran tigers on the Indonesian island.
The critically endangered animal and their extinct cousins are genetically diverse from the Bengal, Amur and the other subspecies found across continental Asia.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has pledged £640,000 from the Government’s Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund to help preserve Sumatra’s tigers from wildlife traffickers, which is a £17billion-a-year racket.
Sumatran tigers, the smallest of the family although they can weigh 300lb and can be 8ft long, are prized for pelts and bones purported to have magical qualities.
Britain stands in the vanguard of global efforts to thwart the criminal syndicates, with a major conference in London later this year ratcheting up pressure on those getting rich by killing protected animals for quack cures.
Yet it is on distant front-lines that the battles are being fought.
Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is working in the Kerinci Seblat National Park, home to more than 150 of Sumatra’s surviving tigers.
British-based FFI, the world’s oldest international wildlife conservation organisation, has been working with the park authorities and local communities since 2000, strengthening tiger protection with forest patrols and law enforcement operations.
As a result, the poaching threat has been diminishing, while tiger populations are stable in the project’s focus areas.
IWT Challenge Fund’s £390,000 donation to FFI is going towards projects at Kerinci Seblat as well as another tiger wilderness in Ulu Masen in Sumatra, which aims to disrupt wildlife trade networks by strengthening community and government collaboration.
British wildlife parks are also co-operating to breed Sumatran tigers in captivity.
The arrival of two-year-old male Achilles at Howletts Wild Animal Park in Canterbury, Kent, from ZSL London Zoo this month, is a leap forward in preserving the tigers.
Adrian Harland, Howletts’ animal director, says: “It is a sad fact Sumatran tigers are critically endangered in the wild.
“Captive breeding programmes could play a vitally important role in saving the species and, once we have introduced Achilles to a suitable mate, we are hoping it won’t be long before we hear the patter of tiny paws at Howletts.”
Mickleach.com is your news, entertainment, music & fashion website. We provide you with the latest news and videos straight from the entertainment industry.