Saving the tigers

04 Jul 2017 / 19:30 H.

IMAGINE a world without tigers. Unfortunately, this may be sooner than later, unless something is done to reverse the dwindling population of these big cats.
Over the last century, the number of tigers in the wild has declined from an estimated 100,000 spread across 13 countries, to only 3,890 today.
These big cats' major threat comes from poachers who see dollar signs on every part of a tiger's body, from its skin and bones right down to its whiskers and teeth, to be used as medicine, ornamental accessories and even textiles.
Today, wildlife trafficking and the illegal tiger trade is an estimated US$20 billion (RM85.9 billion) a year industry.
To underscore the rapid declining number of these endangered animals, the beer that carries the tiger name has replaced the image of the tiger in its logo with a silhouette of the animal.
This is the first time in 84 years that the tiger image will not appear in full on the Tiger Beer logo.
The decision was in part brought about by Tiger Beer's latest six-year global partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to raise global awareness on the plight of wild tigers via a digitally-led campaign called 3890Tigers (in reference to the number of remaining wild tigers in the world).
It's also in support of Tx2, a global commitment made by the governments of the 13 tiger-range countries to double the world's wild tiger population to 6,000 by year 2022.
To this end, Tiger Beer has donated US$1 million (RM4.3 million) to WWF.
"More than 80 years ago, we chose the tiger as our beloved icon and name," said Mie-Leng Wong, the global director of Tiger Beer at Heineken Asia Pacific, during the official launch of 3890Tigers campaign in Singapore recently.
"To us, tigers are more than just the emblem of a brand — they symbolise courage, strength, and they're an important cultural icon, especially in Asia."
Mike Baltzer, the leader of WWF's Tigers Alive initiative, added that apart from helping to fund rangers with the relevant training and equipment, part of the donation will be utilised to aid WWF's primary focus of stopping the illegal trade taking place in tiger range countries.
He explained: "The funds will be used in some countries to help us understand the criminal networks that are involved in tiger trade, and in some countries where there's significant issues in demand such as China and Vietnam."
Baltzer said the extinction of tigers extends beyond the matter of having one less species roaming in the wild.
"When you take out the top predator, there's less killing of prey [and] what we will see is a complete imbalance in the forest," he said, adding that this will result in a ripple effect with more prey leading to over-grazing, forest degradation, soil erosion and natural disasters.

To raise awareness on all these issues, the campaign is leveraging on the power of art.
Tiger Beer has brought together six artists from around the world and asked each to create an art piece in relation to the theme.
The artists are Hua Tunan from China, Mademoiselle Maurice from France, Kenji Chai from Malaysia, Nookt from Russia, Tran Nguyen from the US and Nick Gentry from the UK.
Gentry, who was present at the launch, spoke about the inspiration and challenges behind his artwork which was influenced by his site visit to Cambodia, organised by WWF.
"There were challenges [because] it was such a new project for me, so it's a lot of new territory – literally going out to Cambodia and trying to learn so much in such a short space of time.
"But that is sort of the best kind of challenge you can have as a person and as an artist.
"It's just such a learning curve and I felt myself becoming just so enliven by that … and that inspiration just flowed after that trip."
And utilising a creative digital mechanism, the Tiger Art Intelligence allows members of the public to show their support for the campaign.
They can upload their own selfie and select from six different art styles produced by the artists to be applied on their selfie.
By sharing these selfie art pieces on their social networks and attaching the hashtag #3890Tigers, this acts as their pledge to help fight the illegal tiger trade and stop the demand for products with tiger parts.
Wong said: "To poachers, tigers are a source of profit, but we see them as a source of inspiration, and that's why we've chosen art as a positive voice [and] a new weapon against the illegal tiger trade.
"As Asia's number one premium beer, we want to bring our scale and marketing power to build global awareness and to inspire people to take action."
The 3890Tigers campaign will also run in Malaysia, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Russia, the US, and New Zealand, among others.
Come July 29, which marks Global Tiger Day, the campaign will conclude with a series of events to celebrate the global support garnered over the campaign period.
To be part of the movement, visit www.3890tiger.com.

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