Proceeds from the sale of Chantecaille's 2008 Le Tigre Collection supported TRAFFIC's work with traditional Chinese medicine practitioners, whose support is essential to help eliminate the demand for Tiger products. This included the organisation of a meeting with the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies (WFCMS) in March 2010, which comprises more than 195 member organizations spanning 57 nations where traditional Chinese medicine is practiced. Meeting participants issued a public statement urging WFCMS members not to use Tiger bone or any other parts from endangered wildlife.
This statement was made just prior to the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), sending a strong message to governments attending the CITES meeting that the traditional Chinese medicinal community is now backing efforts to secure a future for wild Tigers. CITES member governments subsequently reached a strong consensus on the way forward to address illegal trade in Tiger products during their March 2010 meeting.
TRAFFIC is also working with to help educate future generations of traditional Chinese medicine practitioners to eliminate endangered species from Chinese medicine, working with traditional medicine specialists to write and publish textbook on Traditional Chinese Medicine - Protection and Sustainable Use of Endangered Medicinal Wildlife Resources. The textbook has been adopted and is being used by 11 of China's top traditional medicine universities.
In collaboration with WWF, TRAFFIC is sending a strong message to consumers to stop using Tiger products, with videos such as "Don't Let This Be the End" on YouTube, a recent video billboard campaign on the Beijing Metro, and the "Don't Buy Trouble" campaigns across India and Viet Nam.
Work to reduce demand is combined with ongoing support to government efforts to stop illegal trade. This includes market surveys to detect and prompt crackdowns on illegal trade, training for Customs, police and other enforcement personnel to identify and prosecute smugglers, and support for use of "sniffer dogs" to detect smuggled Tiger products.
For additional information on TRAFFIC's work to reduce trade threats to Tigers and other wild species, please visit www.traffic.org.
updated Feb. 2011
Just as there aren’t enough Tigers in the wild, there aren’t enough hours in the day to save them. At least that’s the way it felt to TRAFFIC staff during the second half of the Year of the Tiger. This was particularly true in the run-up to the International Tiger Forum, which took place in St Petersburg from 21-24 November.
But after many months of work, often literally around the world and around the clock, TRAFFIC’s efforts to help shape and support discussions and negotiations during the International Tiger Forum paid off. Although only two staff TRAFFIC participated in the forum itself - Executive Director Steven Broad and Advocacy Director Sabri Zain – they were standing on the shoulders of the wider TRAFFIC network. TRAFFIC staff in Asia, Europe and North America made sure that the problems of Tiger poaching and trade received a high media profile and were given high priority by government policy makers. TRAFFIC also worked closely with other parts of WWF and IUCN in the run up to and during the meeting, the varying approaches and combined strengths being a critical factor in success at the Forum.
TRAFFIC's main aims for the meeting focussed on three main themes:
The August seizure of a Tiger cub being smuggled through the Bangkok airport provided a critical opportunity to keep the Tiger trade issue in the news, highlighting both the horrors of the trade (the cub had been drugged and stuffed in a suitcase) and how effective government action could stop it. Airport personnel, who TRAFFIC had helped train as part of USAID-funded capacity building support for the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network, reported the seizure to a TRAFFIC staff-member who happened to be visiting the airport at the time. Seeing the opportunity, TRAFFIC took and released photos of the cub along with a press release praising government staff for their fast action and calling for increased efforts to protect Tigers. The story was picked up by news outlets from all the major newswires; at one stage more than 850 Google News-indexed carried the story and the number of unique visitors to TRAFFIC’s website jumped to more than 6000. The effects of the seizure continued to reverberate, with the CITES Secretariat presenting the Thai authorities with a Certificate of Commendation during a CBD CoP Tiger side event in October, and highlighting TRAFFIC’s work in the accompanying press release. The positive attention received by Thailand, a country frequently criticized for failing to crack down on illegal wildlife trade, hopefully served to encourage future enforcement efforts there and in other countries.
- Agreement on strengthening mechanisms to enhance international collaboration and coordination on information-led enforcement deterrence, including the International Consortium for Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) and CITES
- Greater high-level support for strengthened regional law enforcement activities to combat illegal Tiger trade through bilateral and multilateral arrangements, including ASEAN, SAWEN and bilateral protocols between key Tiger range States
- Agreement on national and global programs to eliminate the illicit demand for Tigers and their parts
This was followed, in November, by launch of the TRAFFIC reports Reduced to Skin and Bones: an Analysis of Tiger seizures from 11 Tiger range countries and Asian big cat trade in Thailand and Myanmar in the run- up to the Forum. The reports drew global attention to the trade issue, with hard evidence demonstrating the need to increase enforcement action. The documentary film "Closing a Deadly Gateway" provided graphic evidence of ongoing Tiger trade in Myanmar - further proof of the need for governments to act. The reports made media headlines around the world, and prompted numerous interviews with TRAFFIC staff. Even Leonardo di Caprio Twittered to his 500,000 followers about Reduced to Skin and Bones, saying: ""Did u know that illegal trade in Tiger parts has led to over 1k Tigers killed over the past 10yrs?"
On day one of the Forum, government delegations from 13 countries with wild Tiger populations were asked to collaborate in a Global Tiger Recovery Programme (GTRP), with the goal of doubling wild Tigers by the next Year of the Tiger in 2022. TRAFFIC gave a presentation on Day Two focussed on the results ofReduced to Skin and Bones and highlighting series of national and international actions that can be taken to clamp down on illegal Tiger trade. TRAFFIC received positive feedback on the presentation and reports, with the seizure analysis in particular seen as a critical baseline for judging action in future. Data from the Reduced to skin and bones was also quoted during presentations and interventions from the CITES Secretariat, the World Bank and various donor and Tiger range countries.
TRAFFIC and WWF also facilitated an Experts Roundtable on "Public awareness campaigns in support of Tiger conservation" on the third day of the Forum. There was consensus among roundtable participants to endorse the GTRP recommendations on demand reduction, particularly the proposed Experts Workshop. Participants agreed a number of points put forward by TRAFFIC and WWF, including that it is important that the portfolio of activities and actions for education and public awareness; building local community support for conservation; and eliminating for Tiger products in the GTRP identify specific target audiences, develop appropriate messages for these target audience and determine appropriate delivery mechanisms for these messages and target audiences. TRAFFIC and WWF will use the outcomes of the session report to influence, guide and steer any follow-up on public awareness and campaigns that that might emerge from the GTRP.
TRAFFIC also provided direct and behind the scenes guidance to policy makers, supporting decision making in the lead up to and during the Forum. The three elements of TRAFFIC’s aims above are strongly reflected in the GTRP that was agreed to at the Forum, as well as in the Declaration. The need for regional law enforcement cooperation in particular was widely recognised in the presentations made by Tiger range countries, donors as well as by ASEAN-WEN and SAWEN, who also noted the contribution made by TRAFFIC and WWF in supporting these efforts. In fact, yhe Nepal Minister of Forests and Soil Conservation, Mr Deepak Bohara, announced at the meeting that that the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN) would be launched early in 2011. TRAFFIC had numerous meetings with representatives from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal to initiate planning for this Second Meeting of the South Asia Experts Group on Illegal Wildlife Trade that will operationalise SAWEN. This meeting to take place from Bhutan in January 28-30, 2011.
Ultimately, government delegations from 13 countries with wild Tiger populations agreed to collaborate in a Global Tiger Recovery Programme (GTRP), with the goal of doubling wild Tigers by the next Year of the Tiger in 2022. The GTRP was also given high-level political endorsement and support in ‘The St. Petersburg Declaration on Tiger Conservation’ that was endorsed by all 13 Tiger range country government representatives at the Forum, including five Heads of Government.
An INTERPOL staff member summed up TRAFFIC’s impact with this note: "I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate TRAFFIC with the great effort they have made over the last period in the run up to the St. Petersburg International Tiger Conservation Forum. The outcome of the forum has no doubt benefited significantly from the way you have informed and alarmed the world of the current situation on the Tiger population and the threat from poaching and trafficking...".
With the Forum now behind us, it would be easy to think that TRAFFIC’s work might have slowed down in December. Not so, however, with TRAFFIC helping refine the WWF Tiger Network Initiative (now the Tigers Alive Initiative), updating TRAFFIC’s Tiger seizures database, and supporting capacity building efforts in Tiger range and consumer States. Along with the never ending task of fundraising – additional resources, as well as hours, will be needed to make sure that governments make good on the promises made in St Petersburg to double Tiger numbers in the next 12 years.