Yesterday afternoon, fellow campaigner Alasdair Cameron and I trooped down to the House of Lords (for the first time in our lives) for what turned out to be one of the most exciting and potentially productive tiger events we’ve been to in a long time.
Our friends at TigerTime have been running a tireless campaign to raise awareness about the plight of the tiger, generating a petition of more than 102,000 signatures to be delivered in person in April to the Chinese Ambassador.
The campaign has been lent support by many much-loved national treasures of British entertainment and international stars, several of whom joined royalty, the Deputy Prime Minister, Lords, Ladies and corporate leaders last night to celebrate the tiger and all it stands for, and to mark the beginning of the next stage of the campaign.
Graciously hosted by the Speaker of the House of Lords, Baroness D’Souza, at the invitation of Lord and Lady Blencathra, HRHs Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, Ricky Gervais, Robert Lindsay, Simon Evans, Claire King, Wincey Willis and Abi Titmuss heard from renowned wildlife artist and conservationist David Shepherd CBE, who spoke movingly of his most recent wild tiger sighting, fearing that it may be the last he sees.
Committed campaigner and actress Joanna Lumley reminded everyone in the room that life is not a dress rehearsal, we get one chance, and dared us all “to do something that is a bit dangerous … make the commitment in our heart to catch a piece of fire as it passes” and act now for the tiger.
Her colleague in the Gurkha campaign and the mastermind behind TigerTime, Peter Carroll, thanked everyone who has and can help – from the Twitter-friendly celebrities who can mobilise 1000s of people with just 140 characters and the political leaders who can reach out to their counterparts in China to the corporate gurus who can invest in the brand of the tiger. His call to action was to sign-up, spread the word and generate support to reach a target of £5 million to support anti-poaching, education and outreach and investigations into the illegal trade.
Alasdair and I had been invited to mingle and there were a lot of well-informed creative people there bouncing around excellent ideas. If just a half of the leads generated last night can be pursued, then TigerTime will go very far in its objectives.
On a personal note, it was particularly thrilling to be invited to join the Q&A session. More used to dealing with the criminal end of the tiger trade, I had one of those fish-out-of-water moments where time stops and for a second you have to pinch yourself. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a similar situation – responding to questions from Princess Michael of Kent, with Joanna Lumley and Ricky Gervais in the room and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg just a few feet away. The vibe was positive and electric – it felt like anything is possible.
For more information about TigerTime, see the Official Press Release here.