Germany committed to tiger conservation

On the occasion of the International Tiger Forum in St. Petersburg hosted by Russian Prime Minister Putin, Jürgen Becker, State Secretary of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, pledged an additional EUR 4 million for protection of forests in the tiger habitat area in the Russian Far East. In this way, within the framework of the International Climate Initiative, Germany is helping to preserve large forested areas as carbon reservoirs. These forests are also an important refuge for endangered animal species, in this case the Siberian tiger. The project in Siberia is an example of how climate protection and biodiversity can go hand in hand. 

In 2010, the Year of the Tiger, at the invitation of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the international community gathered in St. Petersburg for the International Tiger Forum to set out further concrete protection measures for tigers and their habitats. With Vladimir Putin, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and the heads of state and ministers of other countries with tiger habitats in attendance, an additional plan to save the tigers was agreed during the course of the conference.

There are now only 3,200 tigers still living in the wild in the world, meaning they are acutely threatened with extinction. In addition to poaching, the main cause of their disappearance is the destruction of their natural environment. Today tigers occupy only seven per cent of their historic range. Large-scale deforestation is not only responsible for a loss of biodiversity and destruction of the natural habitats of endangered species: it also contributes to climate change, since forests and soils bind large amounts of carbon, which, without sufficient protective measures, is released through deforestation. The project in Russia illustrates how protection and restoration of the tiger’s natural habitat can be harmonised with the needs of the human populations living in the same territory.

Within the framework of the International Climate Initiative, Germany has been supporting forestry projects since 2008, thus contributing to the reduction of overall carbon emissions particularly as a result of deforestation. Germany has already allocated EUR 9.5 million for the protection of natural tiger habitat areas, and a further EUR 12.6 million are to be allotted for additional measures. The tiger is unfortunately also endangered by illegal trapping and trade within Asia. The demand for ‘tiger wine’ and other tiger products, in particular for dubious medicines, is exerting additional pressure on the few individuals still living in the wild. The capture of tigers and cross-border trade in tiger products have been insufficiently monitored and punished in the past. Germany welcomes the fact that an agreement has now been concluded at the Tiger Forum that involves organisations such as Interpol in supporting countries with tiger habitats in their struggle to stop the illegal trade in animals.