Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tiger Summit Holds Promise

A real Siberian heavyweight
That notable man of action, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, held sway over the "tiger summit" in St. Petersburg despite movie actor Leonardo Di Caprio stealing some of his limelight by arriving late and donating $1 million to the cause. The Prime Minister recognized Mr. Di Caprio's contribution by calling the actor a "muzhik" or "real man" at a press conference, Tuesday. DiCaprio's arrival was delayed by the diversion of a Delta flight that lost power in one of two engines. The subject at hand was not scary airplane travel, but saving the remaining tigers in the wild. $100 million was pledged at the conference. However, tiger activists warned that without lethal law enforcement in lawless areas of the 13 range countries, the species is doomed in the wild. Only $9 million from the US was earmarked for combating the organized gangs that traffic in tiger parts and poaching. One Southeast Asia conservationist noted, "Our main concern is that of the amount of money going into this, not much is filtering down into law enforcement." Another concern is the legal "tiger farms" in China that fuel the demand for tiger products. Some conservationists see the summit as a publicity cover for the World Bank that funds development projects in range states with massive adverse impacts on tiger habitat.