Let’s start with some basic facts. Tigers live in Asia. Asia is very large. Asia is also very far away. New Delhi, the capital of the India (the country with the largest tiger population) is 7,480 miles from our capital of Washington, D.C.
These factors add up to a common problem faced by many well-intentioned citizens who want to take action to help save wildlife and the environments they call home but feel utterly helpless to do anything. What can an average United States citizen possibly do for tigers and other imperiled species half a world away? Well, quite a lot actually.
As a global superpower, the United States government has a stake in every international issue, and that includes endangered species conservation. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), US Agency for International Development, and the US State Department all have international conservation programs in countries around the world. Since our inception, Tigers for Tigers has been a large supporter of FWS’s Multinational Species Conservation Funds (MSCFs). The MSCFs allow the Fish and Wildlife Service to provide grants supporting on the ground conservation efforts for tigers, rhinos, elephants, apes, and marine turtles. Past projects have benefitted tiger conservation in the forms of scientific research, law enforcement training and capacity building, and public education to reduce the demand for wildlife products.
It is important to remember that the amount of money the government makes available to the MSCFs is subject to change annually. Each year the government must create (or at least attempt to create) a new budget, which means every federal program is at risk of a reduced budget. This is where we can take action. Tigers for Tigers members have a huge voice on the Hill, and have been effective at letting our Congressmen know that tiger conservation is extremely important to us and that we need more money to support tiger conservation efforts.
In addition to funding international conservation programs, the United States is in an important position to take a leadership role on combatting the illegal wildlife trade through law. As the second largest importer of illegal wildlife products (China is #1) we have a responsibility to stem the tide of this $20 billion a year industry. Fortunately there are currently two bills in Congress that will strengthen the United States’ ability to fight the illegal wildlife trade. The Senate bill is the Wildlife Trafficking Enforcement Act (S.27) and the bill in the House of Representatives is the Global Anti-Poaching Act (HR. 2494). Only several days after T4T members traveled to D.C. this month to meet with their Congressman to discuss these two bills, the Global Anti-Poaching Act moved out of Committee and was introduced to the House floor. If this bill passes, it would be a huge step in the fight against wildlife traffickers, not only here in the US but also abroad. When the United States takes a stand on an issue, it is usually the start of a paradigm shift as other countries begin to follow suit.
Right now, international wildlife conservation is garnering more media attention than it has in a very long time. The wildlife trafficking and poaching crisis is at the forefront of our Congressmen’s minds. This momentum can die down at any time, which is why our voice matters now more than ever. By supporting these policy initiatives we can save tigers from the comfort of our homes. If you’re a true tiger fan call, write, or email your Congressman today and let them know you want to keep our mascot alive!