The battle to keep tigers from extinction is being fought by anti-poaching units at ground-level on a daily basis. Despite growing efforts, the sad reality is that over the last two years reports highlight that evidence of poaching is growing.
Our latest report from FFI teams working in Kerinci Seblat National Park, show a worrying increase in the number of snares found on patrol in early 2013.
‘Poaching tigers is not the problem… it is the sign of the problem,’ according to Debbie Martyr, Programme Team Leader for FFI based in Kerinci Seblat. ‘The problem – for tigers at least – are the organised crime syndicates who are commissioning poachers to supply demand in certain other countries.’
Whilst these are worrying thoughts, there is some solace in the increase of prosecutions being made across Asia. Support from Governments, police and judicial services is paramount. Without higher powers condemning wildlife crime, incentive to poach tigers will not reduce, borders will continue to be guarded poorly and wild tiger populations will continue to decline.
The London Declaration, made at the recent Illegal Wildlife Crime summit, was a positive move towards global recognition of wildlife crime as a serious issue. World leaders sent a strong message that wildlife crime in all its forms would not be tolerated. It also highlighted that a collaborative effort between NGOs, Governments, Heads of State and agencies such as Interpol is essential in the fight to save tigers.
After strengthened legal sanctions, where can we take our fight to protect tigers from poachers?
A significant announcement had been made in Indonesia – home to the largest Muslim population in the world. A fatwa has been issued by The Indonesian Council of Ulama, entitled ‘Protection Of Endangered Species To Maintain The Balanced Ecosystems’.
This fatwa condemns all activities resulting in wildlife extinction. They are considered as haram, forbidden. The fatwa states that all living organisms, including endangered species such as tigers, “are created by Allah in order to maintain the balanced ecosystem and subjugated to the interests of sustainable human welfare.”
The fatwa was the result of months of dialogue between government officials, conservationists and other stakeholders. The Guardian reported, “A Forestry Ministry official who asked to remain anonymous suggested the ministry and the religious council would make a joint announcement regarding the fatwa on 12 March, without elaborating on its content.”
Whilst this fatwa may not result in any legal changes, it may prove to be a very strong moral deterrent to the people commissioned to poach tigers by criminal syndicates.