On 12th-14th April 2016, the 3rd Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation was held in New Delhi, India. This was the latest meeting in the Tx2 process to double wild tiger numbers by the year 2022.
Hosted by the Global Tiger Forum (GTF) and National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) on behalf of the Government of India, the three day conference was attended by high-level government representatives from all 13 tiger countries and resulted in a new resolution that guides the next six years of tiger conservation.
NEW GLOBAL TIGER NUMBER
In preparation for the 3rd Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation, WWF and the Global Tiger Forum (GTF) released a new global tiger number of 3,890 wild tigers. The new global estimate is compiled from comprehensive national tiger surveys that several of the tiger range countries have undertaken, as well as the best scientific estimations (IUCN database) for countries that are yet to undertake a national tiger survey.
The news was covered by international media, drawing the world’s attention to tiger conservation and the TX2 goal.
Following worldwide attention on the new global tiger number, the 3rd Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation opened with an air of cautious optimism – acknowledging progress over the past six years but also emphasising the need for urgent action and the ongoing challenges that tiger conservation faces. These were highlighted in the technical sessions of the day.
The morning session on Landscape Conservation and Habitat Management largely discussed issues related to tiger reintroduction and how political will and good science can help increase and stabilise tiger numbers across tiger range countries. The afternoon session on Anti-poaching, Protection, Illegal Trade and Trafficking covered the use of technology and unconventional media such as social media and other open source intelligence, as well as setting up strong laws and implementation through forensics to achieve Zero Poaching.
India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, officially inaugurated the 3rd Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation in the afternoon, acknowledging the cultural, ecological and economic value of tigers as well as emphasising a key message that “tiger conservation, or conservation of nature, is not a drag on development – both can happen in a mutually complementary manner.” It was announced that, with the aim of improving anti-poaching technology, the Government of India has markedly increased the budget for the protection of tigers. Mr Prakash Javadekar, Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, India, and H.E. Lyon Yeshey Dorji, Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Forests, Royal Government of Bhutan also gave speeches on the successes and challenges of tiger conservation.
Day two focused on the reporting of each tiger range country’s progress towards the Global Tiger Recovery Plan (GTRP) and future plans and commitments to tiger conservation and the Tx2 goal.
The morning presentations were divided into three sessions, co-chaired by government representatives from Russian Federation and Nepal, China and Bhutan, Malaysia and Bangladesh respectively.
Representatives from each of the 13 tiger countries presented on the current status, successes and challenges they faced. Important issues raised by the majority of countries was the need to adopt a landscape approach to tiger conservation as well as strengthening transboundary collaboration and enforcing stricter penalties against poaching and illegal wildlife trade. Several of the countries also underscored the importance of protecting and managing prey species, as well as securing long-term financial mechanisms.
Presentations concluded with the Minister of Kyrgyz Republic and the GSLEP Secretariat on Snow Leopard Conservation drawing parallels between tiger and snow leopard conservation, highlighting the possibility for overlap between conservation of these two flagship species in India, Russia, Nepal, Bhutan and China.
The afternoon session on Business and Industries emphasised the need to make the wider benefits of tiger conservation more tangible to different sectors. The day ended with an expert panel discussion on Resource Mobilisation, which explored the various avenues for current and potential funding. It also highlighted how imperative sustainable, long-term financing is – both domestically and internationally.
The 3rd Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation concluded with tiger countries adopting the New Delhi Resolution on Tiger Conservation. The 13 tiger range countries committing to:
- Accelerate implementation of the Global and National Tiger Recovery Programmes
- Align economic development and tiger conservation
- Leverage global and national funding and technical support
- Recognise the value of tiger habitats for ecosystem services and climate change
- Emphasise recovery of tiger populations in areas with low tiger densities
- Strengthen co-operation at the highest levels of government
- Increase knowledge sharing and use of technology, including SMART tools
The Resolution, which sets the pathway for the next six years of the Tx2 goal to double wild tiger numbers by 2022, builds on the former commitments of tiger range countries in Hua Hin, St. Petersburg, Thimphu and Dhaka. The Resolution aligns tiger conservation and economic development, inspired by the inaugural speech of India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who spoke of the need to see tiger landscapes as “natural capital”.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) hosted this conference on behalf of the Government of India, in collaboration with the Global Tiger Forum (GTF), WWF and other partners.
The event attracted both local and international media interest, from the Hindustan Times to the Associated Press, CNN, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, The New York Times and China Daily.