As a Princeton alumnus, I have always revered our mascot, the tiger. Even as a child, images of this majestic beast in Dersu the Trapper kindled my imagination about wildlife and wild places. Dersu Uzala, the indigenous protagonist of Vladimir Arsenev’s classic 19th century account of the exploration of eastern Russia, taught the author to respect nature and the God of the Forests, the Siberian tiger.
Unfortunately, only about 500 Siberian tigers remain in the Russian Far East, and globally, fewer than 4,200 tigers inhabit the wild, in just a tiny fraction of the original tiger range. The International Fund for Animal Welfare prioritizes tiger rescue, conservation and advocacy. Our goal is to help secure remaining habitat, strengthen corridors connecting isolated tiger populations, and minimize threats to these extraordinary animals, including wildlife crime and cruel captivity.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare has embarked on a campaign to bring awareness of tiger conservation to alumni of colleges and universities whose mascots are tigers. In the ad pictured above, we ask alums to “meet their new mascot,” imagining a time when, if conservation measures are not taken, tigers will no longer roam the wild.
In the Russian Far East, we work with partners to rescue injured and orphaned tigers, rehabilitate them at the PRNCO Tiger Center near Vladivostok, and release them back into safe habitat. Since 2015, IFAW has assisted in the release of six tigers back into the wild, into a part of Russia that hasn’t seen tigers for more than 40 years. One rehabilitated female, named Zolushka, struck a relationship with a male in the protected area and gave birth to two cubs, which are now more than a year old.
In the last few months, four new cubs have come into the centre. Two of them, Filippa and Vladik, are rehabilitating well and the former may be released as early as this spring. Two more cubs, Yarik and Luzovka, have come in for rehabilitation more recently.
In addition to supporting these rescue and release operations, IFAW also provides support and technical assistance to anti-poaching brigades, which monitor and protect the tigers.
IFAW and its largest affiliate, the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), also work to protect the Bengal tiger in India, which contains about half of the world’s remaining wild tigers. As a result of human development and habitat fragmentation, tigers have grown increasingly isolated in India, and so it is important to maintain corridors that allow tigers to keep connected, physically and genetically, to other groups of tigers. In the tiger landscape of Central India, we work with local communities to give them efficient cook stoves, alternative livelihoods and education to minimize Human-Wildlife Conflict (HWC). IFAW/WTI also provides extensive training and life insurance to rangers, who often put their lives on the line in their effort to fight poaching and protect these critically endangered animals.
In addition to protecting tigers in the wild, IFAW advocates for legislation to protect tigers and other big cats from cruelty. More than 10,000 big cats are thought to be held captive in the United States, in backyards, basements and roadside attractions, mostly in inhumane conditions. IFAW hopes this year to help pass The Big Cat Public Safety Act, which would prohibit private breeding and possession of big cats. IFAW also works to educate the public about the impact of poaching and private breeding of tigers in both the U.S. and China, which reportedly has more than 6,000 tigers in captivity.
With your help, we will continue our efforts to protect the remaining wild tigers and reduce the cruel captivity of this critically endangered animal.
Article source: IFAW