Media Availability: Can tigers be saved at the Nov. 20-24 Tiger Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia?

WCS Tiger Experts:

  • WCS President Steve Sanderson
  • Executive Vice President for Conservation and Science John Robinson
  • Director for Asia Programs Joe Walston
  • Vice President of Species Program Elizabeth Bennett

Vladimir Putin calls together highest level of delegates ever gathered from tiger range states to save this iconic species
WCS: Protection of “Source Sites” is critical to future tiger efforts

NEW YORK (November 15, 2010) – As world leaders from more than a dozen range states gather in St. Petersburg, Russia for a “Tiger Summit” from November 20-24th, tiger experts from the Wildlife Conservation Society say that saving “source sites” is the key to ensure that future conservation efforts will succeed.

The Wildlife Conservation Society published a scientific study in the September issue of PLoS Biology that identified 42 source sites scattered across Asia that are now the last hope and greatest priority for the conservation and recovery of the world’s largest cat.

Drs. Sanderson, Robinson, Bennett, and Walston are all available for pre-conference interviews by contacting Mary Dixon, WCS Vice President of Communications: 1-347-840-1242; mdixon@wcs.org, or Stephen Sautner, Director of Communications: 1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org. Robinson, Walston, Bennett, and Dixon will be in attendance at the summit.

Source sites contain the majority of the world’s remaining breeding females – approximately 1,000 individuals – and have the potential to seed the recovery of tigers across wider landscapes.  

The Wildlife Conservation Society says that source sites are the best science to save tigers and are hopeful that this strategy will be adopted by range states attending the summit. The Wildlife Conservation Society applauds Prime Minister Putin and the tiger range states for this unprecedented gathering to save tigers.

“Source sites are the highest priority for action today,” says Steve Sanderson, President of the Wildlife Conservation Society. “We have a clear strategy to save this wondrous and charismatic species from decimation. As stewards of our planet, we cannot fail.”

John Robinson, Executive Vice President of Conservation and Science for the Wildlife Conservation Society, says “The tiger is facing its last stand as a species.  As dire as the situation is for tigers, the Wildlife Conservation Society is confident that the world community will come together to save these iconic big cats from the brink for future generations.  We are optimistic that one of the outcomes of the Tiger Summit is a roadmap using source sites to make that happen.”

Joe Walston, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Asia Program, says, “While the scale of the challenge is enormous, the complexity of effective implementation is not.  In the past, overly ambitious and complicated conservation efforts have failed to do the basics: prevent the hunting of tigers and their prey. With 70 percent of the world’s wild tigers in just six percent of their current range, efforts need to focus on securing these source sites as the number one priority for the species.”

Elizabeth Bennett, Vice President of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Species Program, says: “We are optimistic that world leaders attending the Tiger Summit will use the hard science of source sites as a compass to formulate strategies to save the tiger for future generations.”

The WCS study calculated the total required annual cost of effectively managing source sites to be $82 million, which includes the cost of law enforcement, wildlife monitoring, community involvement, and other factors. However, much of that is already being provided by range state governments themselves, supplemented by international support. The shortfall—$35 million—is needed to intensify proven methods of protection and monitoring on the ground.


The Wildlife Conservation Society
saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.


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