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Action not words is needed to save tigers

EIA urges International Tiger Forum to give its outcomes real teeth


PARTICIPANTS in the forthcoming International Tiger Forum are being cautioned they must act decisively now or face a future in which the wild tiger is extinct.

Tiger range countries are to meet in St Petersburg, Russia, from November 21-24, 2010 for the forum hosted by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) sees it as an opportunity to commit to an unprecedented global pledge to save wild tigers, now numbering as few 3,200 – but said the time for toothless if well-intentioned declarations is long gone.

“Tigers desperately need a zero-tolerance approach to the illegal trade, in all parts and derivatives, from all sources, and St Petersburg represents a great moment to finally make progress, to halt and reverse the decline of this magnificent creature.” said Debbie Banks, EIA Head of Tiger Campaign.

“The remaining wild tigers are on the brink – they simply don’t have time to wait as the world again wrings it collective hands but does nothing concrete at the end of it.”

For many years, EIA has been at the forefront of efforts to expose the international trafficking routes and extensive criminal trade in tiger skins, bones and derivatives such as tiger bone wine ‘tonics’. Skins are sought by the military and the rich for home décor and bribery, while products such as bone are used in traditional Asian medicines.

Drawing on its expertise in investigating the trade, EIA will be releasing a special report during the forum which outlines key recommendations for action if the world’s last wild tigers are to be kept from extinction.

The necessary reduction in tiger trade can be achieved by a combination of effective law enforcement, aggressive demand reduction strategies to reduce the consumption of tiger parts, and judicial reform.

“EIA believes these actions will be a test of parties’ commitment to saving the wild tiger,” added Banks.

In particular, EIA is calling on tiger range countries to use the tools already at their disposal, such as INTERPOL.

INTERPOL – the International Criminal Police Organisation – provides tiger range countries with a secure means of sharing and analysing intelligence and could be a crucial link in tackling the criminals behind the wildlife trade.

“INTERPOL’s commitment to taking a lead role, announced on Monday, is a great first step and now governments need to invest in ensuring that at the very least one police investigator is assigned to INTERPOL National Central Bureaus full-time, so creating wildlife desks.”

View a short film about EIA’s work to expose the illegal trade in tiger skins, parts and derivatives here; the undercover footage featured is available to broadcasters, as are screengrabs of same.


Interviews are available on request. Please contact Debbie Banks, EIA Head of Tiger Campaign, at [email protected] or telephone 020 7354 7960.



1. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) investigates and campaigns against environmental crime and abuses.

2. Debbie Banks and tiger campaign colleague Alasdair Cameron will both attend the International Tiger Forum, and can provide background briefings as well as comment, expert analysis and interviews during the meeting. Reach them via our main switchboard on +44 (0) 20 7354 7960 or by email to [email protected] & [email protected].

3. Current estimates suggest as few as 3,200 wild tigers left worldwide, with about 1,411 in India. Three subspecies of tiger have become extinct in the past 100 years.

4. China is the main destination for illegally poached Asian Big Cat parts, although there is still demand in other countries from which products are then exported.

5. The long-term goal of EIA’s campaign is that Asian big cat populations recover from the current status and the global wild tiger population rises to 5,000 by 2020.

6. The Chinese Year of the Tiger began on February 14, 2010. The next is in 2022.


Environmental Investigation Agency
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London N1 0NY
Tel: +44 207 354 7960
Fax: +44 207 354 7961