Will New Initiatives Save Tigers From Extinction?

The World Bank is proposing a new plan to help save the tiger, one of the most fascinating and critically endangered species on the planet.

It is a great irony that one of the largest, fastest, powerful and most terrifying predators on Earth, is also among the most threatened and vulnerable animals. The tiger’s survival is precariously placed in the hands of underfunded and ill-equipped humans who are outnumbered and outgunned by greedy poachers.

The number of tigers in the wild has dwindled from 100,000 to 3,500 in the past century. The main threats to tigers are the destruction of their habitats in Asia – due to economic and industrial expansion – and poachers.

Poachers represent a huge threat to the tiger’s survival. The use of tiger bones in traditional Chinese medicines is widely known, although the ingredient hasn’t been listed in official Chinese manuals for pharmaceuticals since 1993. Tiger is also served in high priced restaurants so that millionaires can eat endangered species to demonstrate their wealth. 

Tiger parts also serve as ingredients in tribal superstitions. In some areas, tiger organs are used in what locals believe to be magical rituals.

Between the greed of the elite, outdated medicinal practices, and absurd superstitions, the tiger is assailed on all sides and help has always been underfunded, inconsistent, uncoordinated. The new efforts by the World Bank are ostensibly a paradigm shift.

The World Bank president, Robert Zoellick is by all accounts dedicated to this project and hopes to be able to mainstream the efforts of 13 countries in a massive plan to double tiger populations over the next twelve years. It is the first time an effort this large has been dedicated to tiger conservation.

All tiger range countries are meeting from the 21st to the 24th of November in St. Petersburg to endorse the Global Tiger Recovery Program, which will expand, connect, and protect habitats and reduce poaching through various carrots and sticks.

The World Bank, however, has a spotty record with conservation and has been accused in the past of using conservation efforts as a front for more profitable ventures. The Wildlife Conservation Society says that an earlier World Bank tiger conservation initiative (years before Zoellick took office as president) ended in increased poaching rates, as well as timber trees being stolen from tiger preserves.

I am cautiously optimistic about these and even if that makes me feel a bit naive.

If these efforts fail, we may see the end of the tiger in the wild during our lifetime. The most fascinating predator on the planet may soon be just a memory.

Update 11/21: Read more about efforts to conserve tigers.

Photo: Yvonne (bijoux & crafts)


Caryn N.
Caryn N.7 years ago

I and my partner have been trying for months to get info on how we can help save the tigers but no one ever comes back to us. We would like to know about different ways in which we can help and who we can contact so that we too can give more coverage to the cause on our website etc.

Jonathan Y.
Jonathan Y7 years ago

The tiger is extremely threatened and any help it can get is good.

The big player in this is China. If the govt. there can take strong steps to end the crazy TCM superstitions, the tiger may have a chance. The other major tiger range countries, Russia and India, are already on board.

Donna Pavlik
Donna Pavlik7 years ago

I always want to be hopeful, however, our animals rights have not been protected properly for so long now that eventually every animal will become extinct. What a sad thought! Let's not be complacent or naive, the tigers need our help. Let's all do what we can to save these remarkable animals. Donna P.

Irene L.
Irene L.8 years ago

save them all from the cruel Chinese who eat anything and stuff i would not like to think about there is to many of these Chinese to feed

Patrice D.
Patrice D8 years ago

As much as I would like to believe the tigers can be saved, I really have no hope, as my hope is also fading for so many others. Too little too late. Traditions and beliefs are hard to change, regardless of any laws written, any scientific proof tiger parts have no redeeming value. I have to wonder, though, what those traditionalists will do when they no longer have access to the tiger parts they so dearly believe in... What will they find to use then? It's the HUMAN population that must be curtailed! As long as our species continues to increase unchecked, the destruction of all animal habitats will fall to human and industrial encroachment. But the question remains - how to get the humans to restrict population growth when that infringes on their "rights"? It truly is a sad time in this world. I hope the future generations can save themselves and all the creatures, not to mention the planet, from complete extinction.

jane richmond
jane richmond8 years ago

Hope we can accomplish the mission in time~!

Klaus P.
Klaus Peters8 years ago

I am very pessimistic about saving one of the most beautiful animals on earth, certainly the tiger is my favourite. First we have to stop the Chinese from using tiger bodyparts for Chinese medicine, hence the illegal slaughter of tigers for a quick $. What do people care, except for a few. I am totally devastated that we cannot stop the slaughter. On the other hand the Chinese feel so confident by supplying the world with rubbish and think they own the world. But they are the biggest polluters and killers of endangered species. But how to boycott them when local business bends over backwards to do everything for the greed of a $. Made in China (Rubbish land). Even a lot of our contaminated food comes from China cheaply at the moment in order to kill our primary industry, and then what!!!! We have a culture in this world now dictated by Chinese pollution and muscle flexing and I fear for my family. My bugget does not include CHINA!!!

kryzstyna P.
kryzstyna P8 years ago

WHY ARE PEOPLE SO DAMN GREEDY-this is their way of showing of cash?I grew up in a very wealthy family and we were also taught that God made the animals,forests,trees,oceans-before he ever made us.How sad and disguisting.I believe we have already doomed them.

Brigitte S.
Brigitte S8 years ago

Poachers should be stripped naked and to run amongst tigers with a piece of raw meat strapped on their backs...
In the mean while I'll be hoping these beautiful animals will be saved!

beverly gannon
beverly gannon8 years ago

i agree with Dan L.