London zoo wants to raise £3.6 million ($5.85 million) to help save the Sumatran tiger. Of that, only £300,000 will actually get to Sumatra, the rest will be spent in London on a new 'conservation centre'.
I am not personally against zoos, but this is just going too far. If anyone really wants to save tigers from extinction, then building fancy new centres in a zoo is not the best way of going about it.
Tigers are easy to breed in captivity -- in fact so easy that they are regularly culled. In fact at one time it was argued that there were probably more tigers in captivity than there were in the wild. I don't know how true that was, but what is certainly true is that captive tigers are not the conservation problem: wild tigers are the problem.
On the last day of February, Vivek Menon, Director of our Indian partner (Wildlife Trust of India), gave a presentation about the work WLT are helping to fund to create elephant corridors in India. Vivek pointed out that the villagers were really enthusiastic about being moved from corridors -- not because of elephant conflicts, but because of wild tigers.
The Corbett National Park, on one side of a proposed wildlife corridor is one of the few places where tiger numbers are stable or increasing. These tigers have started to roam -- and five people have been killed in the area where the corridor is being proposed. The man-eater was shot, but a few days ago another tiger had moved into the area, and you can see how 'afraid' of humans it is by watching this video of the tiger actually in the corridor.
Creating this wildlife corridor will not cost millions of pounds. But it will cost a few hundred thousand. It will not only help tigers, but it will also help poor farmers get out of danger.