Wednesday 18 June 2014

Not Enough! $80m To Save the World's Wild Cats

A global alliance of environmental philanthropists from China, the United Arab Emirates, the US and India have joined together to try and do something about saving the wild cat species, which is entirely admirable but their agreement to provide funding of US$80,000,000 is nowhere near enough.  When set against the profits made from the business of trading and trafficking internationally wild cat species and their body parts, $80,000,000 as a pittance and don't forget you have to complete and beat very devious and very clever businessmen who know how to corrupt officials and politicians in order to get their hands on those precious tiger body parts.

When you think of the wealth of the countries involved their combined funding towards conservation of the wild cat species truly is a very small sum of money.  There are many billionaires living in any one of these countries who could write a cheque for $80,000,000 right now without blinking. It would be like me writing a cheque for £100.

They have guaranteed a 10 year commitment to wild cat conservation so the $80,000,000 funding is spread over 10 years.  That also, I regret to say, is not good enough because species like the tiger have arguably 20 years left in the wild in India before they become extinct in that country in the wild.  Therefore, there is an immediate requirement for substantial funds to resolve the problem.

In addition, the conservation of the Bengal tiger goes well beyond simple funding.  It's about the reserves, which are too small and not managed well enough. There is no point throwing millions of dollars towards the conservation of the Bengal tiger without tackling corruption and management at the same time.  Otherwise all the money will simply go down the drain, the drain of corruption and bad management. Note: it is impossible to stop corruption - too many vested interests and too entrenched.

I almost think that this is a PR exercise but I'll try not to be too cynical.  The objective of the fund is to reduce poaching and international trade, reduce retaliatory killings due to human-animal conflict, reduce the hunting of the prey of the wild cats and try and resolve the unresolvable problem of the loss and fragmentation of the habitat of these cats.  How can anyone resolve the problem of fragmentation of habitat? It is impossible to turn the clock back and create a habitat for a wild cat species that is complete and whole because people are living in parts of this habitat with their farms.  It would mean relocating tens of thousands of people, wouldn't it?

The funding is being channelled through an organisation called Panthera.  The Alliance is called the Panthera Global Alliance. Good luck. I wish I was more optimistic.

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