Well, the Tiger Summit in St Petersburg has come up with a price tag of $350m to save the tiger. I wish I could be surprised that part of the solution to save the tiger is to spend even more money. I wish I could be surprised that we are starting to evaluate the success of our efforts to save tigers on the basis of meetings held and money spent.
I’m more than a little uncomfortable that we have such a single-minded focus on a single species. Most poachers for example, aren’t tiger poachers. They’re leopard poachers that sometimes take tigers. A wider, more cohesive strategy that looked at all of Asia’s big cat species could be merited. Going after leopard poachers would net in tiger poachers anyway. Targeting tiger poachers just keeps poachers in business as they persist with their hunting of leopards.
Finally, while we are thinking about $350m and who is going to come up with the money (hat-tip to Leonardo diCaprio for putting $1m into the pot), there is another cost of conserving the tigers. Live tigers mean people are going to die from tiger attacks. This sadly illustrated by the following news.
The attack occurred at the village Habiborongabari in Morigaon district, about 60 km east of Assam’s main city of Guwahati.
First a woman was mauled to death, then a man working in a field. The attack continued with a police official and girl being injured (both reported to be battling for their lives in hospital).
The tiger was eventually shot to death by forest rangers.
Saving tigers isn’t just a matter of good reserve design and controlling commercial poaching. The fundamental problem we face is that a lot of locals who live within, and next to these forests, don’t see these 1/4 ton monsters as cute, fuzzy, conservation icons to be saved. Insisting they tolerate the deaths of family members, children and livestock to save tigers is a big ask.