The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife Without Borders program in the Division of International Conservation has joined forces with the Detroit Tigers to enhance a global endangered species conservation initiative to help save tigers. To commence the partnership, Wildlife Without Borders will join the Detroit Tigers during a check presentation on the field at Comerica Park prior to the Tigers game on Thursday, September 27.
“Fewer than 3,200 wild tigers exist in the world today, down from 100,000 at the turn of the 20th century. Of this remnant population, just 1,000 are breeding females, individuals that hold the last hope for this magnificent and charismatic great cat,” said Bryan Arroyo, Assistant Director of the Service’s International Affairs program.
The baseball team is partnering with the Wildlife Without Borders' Tiger Conservation Fund through the Pennies for Paws program, a coin collection campaign at Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers, which raises funds to save endangered wild tigers and promote tiger conservation. Since the inception of the program in April 2008, Tigers fans have helped to raise nearly $40,000 which has been invested in tiger conservation projects.
The Wildlife Without Borders' Tiger Conservation Fund was established in 1994 by the U.S. Congress. The fund supports the conservation of the five surviving tiger subspecies--Bengal, Indo-Chinese, South China, Amur (commonly called Siberian), and Sumatran tigers - all of which are threatened by illegal hunting and poaching and habitat loss. Historically, the extinct Bali, Caspian and Javan tiger subspecies were found near the Caspian Sea in Turkey and Iran, and on the islands of Bali and Java in Indonesia.
The threats currently facing tigers are sadly common to those who work to save wildlife and nature, both in the United States and abroad. The continued existence of Amur tigers is being challenged by:
· Habitat loss--the Amur tiger’s habitat is being destroyed by logging and fires-both legal and illegal. Each adult tiger needs a huge area — up to 40km by 40km for an adult male to find food.
· Illegal poaching -- hunting tigers in Russia was banned in 1947 but with the dissolution of the Soviet Union illegal hunting has resumed, fueled by demand from across the borders in China and Korea.
· Traditional Chinese medicine believes tiger body parts will cure disease, even though alternatives are available. It is estimated that 30 Amur tigers are killed each year for this illegal trade.
· Human/Wildlife Conflicts -- Impoverished villagers compete with the Amur tiger for food. Both hunt deer and boars and as prey numbers drop and the habitat is lost, the tigers are losing to humans in the resulting competition.
“We are delighted to welcome the Detroit Tigers as a partner in this effort,” said Herbert Raffaele, Chief of the Service’s Division of International Conservation. “Together we can raise awareness of the challenges facing tigers in the wild and engage in meaningful conservation efforts to aid habitat conservation, law enforcement, and reduce consumer demand for tigers and other imperiled wildlife.”
Funding for wildlife conservation projects through the Wildlife Without Borders program includes a $15.5 million suite of grants across the globe. For more information on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife Without Borders program, including detailed summaries of 2011 grant projects from Russia, East Asia, and other regions, visit www.fws.gov/international.