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Posted: 06 Dec 10, 08:56 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Following hard on the heels of the internationally-acclaimed International Tiger Forum, convened by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in St Petersburg (21st – 24th November), three leading UK charities announce the UK’s Save Wild Tigers Summit at the Royal Geographical Society, London, on 7th December 2010

No one denies that wild tigers are facing a crisis. With just 3,200 individuals left, the big question is – can they be saved from extinction? But the other question on many people’s lips is: “Does the UK government care?”

“It was more than a little embarrassing to be in St Petersburg just a week ago striving to secure the survival of one of the world’s most iconic species, a species historically linked with Great Britain, to be listening to presentations from countries as diverse as Russia, India, US (which has no wild tigers), Iran (which has no wild tigers) , Germany (which has no wild tigers) and more – and yet to find that Her Majesty’s Government was absent.” said Will Travers, CEO of Born Free Foundation.

Invitations to Caroline Spelman MP, Secretary of State for the Environment and Oliver Letwin MP, Minister of State for Policy, have been sent to Defra (the Department of Environment and Rural Affairs), urging high-level representation at the UK Tiger Summit this coming Tuesday.

“The UK can offer a lot of in-kind support for tiger conservation through the exchange of enforcement skills and training.” said Debbie Banks, lead campaigner for the Environmental Investigation Agency. “The Metropolitan Police Wildlife Crime Unit and the National Wildlife Crime Unit have enormous experience in terms of devising strategies and operations at the national and international level. Of course, it presupposes that the UK government will continue to fund them so that the UK can deliver a meaningful contribution to tiger protection and other wildlife crime enforcement”

The UK Tiger Summitll feature presentations from leading figures from the three charities and will be chaired by the UK’s top TV investigative journalist, Donal MacIntyre. It will also be attended by a number of well-known conservationists including Bill Oddie OBE, Brian May CBE, Virginia McKenna OBE and Rula Lenska. The event is hosted by Asia House.

“It is bizarre. The UK has attended, participated in and indeed, been an important player in international tiger conservation work and the development of plans to save wild tigers in the past and so I was bemused by their absence last week when, quite clearly, the St Petersburg meeting was a defining moment in worldwide conservation efforts for wild tigers” said Steve Trent, President of WildAid.

Tickets for the UK Tiger Summit cost £12 (£10 concession) and can be obtained through the Born Free Foundation’s website or by calling Born Free’s office 01403 240170.