Posts Tagged ‘tiger’

New Jersey one step closer to creating tiger-tracking system

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

This story ranks among headlines that surprised me today, tigers in New Jersey…. 

New Jersey one step closer to creating tiger-tracking system

Associated Press

Legislation that would create a registry and tracking system for captive tigers living in New Jersey has advanced with unanimous bipartisan support.  Sen. Ray Lesniak’s bill aims to ensure tiger bones and other body parts don’t end up on the black market.

Tiger claws, teeth and whiskers are marketed illegally, but bones are the most valuable on the black market because they are believed by some to have medicinal value. Poaching and loss of habitat are the biggest threats to the world’s dwindling tiger population.

The measure that advanced Thursday requires environmental regulators to keep track of the tigers and for the animals to be micro-chipped. The information would help police track those responsible if tiger parts are sold illegally.  Lesniak hopes the legislation will serve as an international model.

Enter the Tiger Bubble

Monday, March 14th, 2011

John Valliant, author of the fascinating book, The Tiger, gives this recent interview on  My favorite part, a takeaway for life, is this:

John Valliant: Umwelt is a term coined more than a century ago by an Estonian physiologist named Jakob von Uexkull who is considered one of the fathers of ethology (also known as behavioral ecology). Ethology is a young discipline whose goal is to study behavior and social organization through a biological lens. “To do so,” wrote Uexkull, “we must first blow, in fancy, a soap bubble around each creature to represent its own world, filled with the perceptions which it alone knows. When we ourselves then step into one of these bubbles, the familiar…is transformed.” Uexkull called this ‘bubble’ the umwelt, a German word that he applied to a given animal’s subjective or “self-centered” world. An individual’s umwelt exists side by side with the Umgebung—the term Uexkull used to describe the objective environment, a place that exists in theory but that none of us can truly know given the inherent limitations of our respective umwelten. For me, umwelt and umgebung offered a helpful framework for exploring and describing the experience of other creatures, which is one of the central themes in The Tiger.

Talking Not Good Enough for Tigers

Friday, November 26th, 2010

In the waning moments of the Year of the Tiger officials and celebrities from around the world gathered in St. Petersburg for the first-ever Global Tiger Summit Nov. 21-24.  Vladimir Putin was there.  World Bank President Bob Zoellick was there.  Leonardo DiCaprio was delayed, but sent a million bucks anyway.  Naomi Campbell made it. 

Everyone knows the tiger is in decline.  NGOs have been telling us that for years, using the big cat to ask for funds, promising to stop the hemmorhage even though very few NGOs have much to do with law enforcement.  Everyone agrees law enforcement is key.  “It’s our number one priority,” Zoellick told me during a launch party for this week’s event in 2008.  An astounding 2.5 years ago, many of the same officials as in St. Petersburg this week met at the National Zoo in Washington, DC to “reverse decline in tiger numbers.”  Harrison Ford was there that year.  Bo Derek was there.  Robert Duvall was there.  So many reporters attended the event you couldn’t get near the speakers, who sat at a table in front of the zoo’s tiger exhibit. 

After their speeches, zoo staff brought out buckets of frozen blood for the tigers to play with.  Except for me and some staff nobody stayed to watch.  Nobody had time for the live tigers.  The meeting broke for lunch and was supposed to reconvene at the World Bank that afternoon, but hardly anyone outside of the NGO world bothered with the second meeting.  Zoellick was not there.  The movie stars were gone.  No reporters showed up.  Expert after expert talked about declines, about cornerstone species, keystone species, umbrella species.  The need for “tiger landscapes” and how protecting the tiger helps every species in its range.  But then a senior World Bank official, contravening his boss, told the room the World Bank could not legally fund law enforcement.  A few months later I traveled to Sumatra where a wildlife trader there said to me, “You want to protect the tiger?  Let one go in your neighborhood and see who will protect it. If you want to protect the tiger you must give me a reason to save it.”

This month’s Tiger Summit has resulted in endorsement of a Global Tiger Recovery Program whose goal includes doubling the number of wild tigers by 2022.  Without concrete benchmarks, that goal is fluff.  Still, at the rate the group is going it should not be difficult to double the tiger population.  In 2008 the group estimated the wild tiger population to be “around 4000.”  This year they’re saying “about 3200.”  The numbers get smaller every meeting.  Keep that in mind because leaders this week could not decide how to parcel out the money, so they’ve agreed to four more meetings next year… 

Wildlife trafficking may be the only area of major crime in the world where we let non-governmental organizations, individuals, and celebrities set international policy, funding, and enforcement priorities.  It’s one thing if this were a supplement to existing law enforcement, but with few exceptions it’s not.     

Here’s some good tiger summit coverage…and here.