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For Immediate Release: 11/23/10

World Leaders Unite in “Can Do” Call to Action for Tigers

Born Free's CEO Will Travers Reacts to Tiger Summit Events of Nov. 23 in Russia

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Today’s much anticipated “high-level” session at the International Tiger Forum brought renewed optimism that this political gathering can deliver a new vision and much-needed impetus for the wild tiger’s recovery beyond the next decade.

The historic meeting opened with World Bank president declaring: “I want to see tigers in the wild, not behind bars in zoos”, a view firmly championed by the Born Free Foundation, the United Kingdom-based affiliate of Born Free USA.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, joined by the heads of state from Bangladesh, China, Laos and Nepal, underlined that action is needed now, not only for the sake of tigers but for all wildlife, their habitats and future generations of people.

Putin urged collective effort from the 200 delegates present to learn from past mistakes, noting the tiger’s current plight results almost entirely “from human selfishness and cruelty.” Pledging to work more closely with all parties, including other Tiger Range countries and NGOs, he declared that “the main task ahead of us is to preserve tigers in the wild”, adding, emphatically, that “we can do it.”

Responding to Putin’s announcement that Russia and China will establish joint tiger projects and cross-border protected areas, China’s Premier Wen Jiabao echoed fears that human activities are a fundamental threat to wild species. “Humans must curtail their activities,” observed Jiabao, who also urged a crackdown on tiger poaching.

Observing the day’s events in St Petersburg with interest and hope, Born Free USA’s chief executive officer, Will Travers, said: “The very fact that heads of state are publicly urging greater effort to conserve tigers should inspire the world, as it has the delegates here today. At the same time, though, their willingness to prioritize this event serves to underline just how serious the tigers’ plight is.

“There really has never been a better opportunity, or greater need, to bring tigers back from the brink.”

After watching Russia’s prime minister speak, Travers observed: “Putin reminded us that Gandhi said 'a country that cares for tigers cares for itself'. He pledged to do what it takes. He concluded that saving habitat for tigers means we care about people, too. Is Putin the world's greatest conservationist? Could be!”

Read more about Born Free's work for tigers in central India.

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