Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Strip off for the Zoological Society?

29 May, 2013 - 12:21 -- John Burton
Camera-trap picture of adult tiger in an Indian wildlife corridor

I read that the Zoological Society of London is seeking 300 volunteers to strip off as part of a Streak for Tigers event in August (streak being the collective term for tigers).

It’s not the sort of gimmicky event I would associate with that august body, but then each to their own.

In the meantime, there’s no doubt that fundraising for tigers is a very popular activity. Do an internet search for ‘save tigers’, and you will find page after page of organisations claiming they are saving tigers. But how many are actually doing anything concrete to really help tigers survive to the end of the 21st century?

Take a look at the websites and ask yourself if the claims hold water. In most cases you won’t be able to tell. It’s pretty obvious that adopting a tiger or getting a cuddly toy is not going to be much help to tigers (read the small print if you don’t believe me), but neither is captive breeding or many of the other means funding is sought for.

Conspicuously absent from the internet search results for ‘save tigers’ are World Land Trust (WLT) and Wildlife Trust of India (WTI). There could be many reasons for this: both WLT and WTI take an ecosystem approach to conservation rather than a species approach, we tend not to present our projects in simplistic ‘save the tiger’ terms, and we do not rely on headline grabbing gimmicks.

For 10 years World Land Trust has been working with WTI to create wildlife corridors. Ostensibly these corridors are for elephants but, as all conservationists know, if you create a wildlife corridor large enough for an elephant to roam through, tigers and a whole host of other species will also use it.

So far, thanks to WLT support, two corridors have been completed in India and two more are being created. In one of the projected corridors more than seven people have been killed in the past two years. This means that creating a corridor will allow elephants and tigers to move freely between two protected areas and help prevent human animal conflict - a win-win situation. Meanwhile, WTI is providing encouraging news of camera-trap sightings of tigers in the completed corridors.

In reality, WTI’s corridor project is one of the very few demonstrably effective ways of helping tigers survive into the future.

So a message to cyberspace: we won’t worry about the fact that internet search engines don’t know we are helping save tigers, we’ll just get on and do our job - helping to create safe havens for elephants and tigers, acre by acre.

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