In the brave new world of multilateralism, the tiger is the latest concern. In St Petersburg this week, officials from 13 countries that still have a few of the big cats left, including India, pledged to double the current tiger population in 12 years.
It’s easier said than done, as India’s experience with tiger conservation shows. But the problem has another dimension. A recent Worldwide Fund for Nature and Traffic International report pointed to illegal markets for tiger parts near Myanmar’s borders with China and Thailand. Much of the poaching in countries such as India can be traced back to the demand generated in these lawless regions.
This also presents a conundrum—poachers and illegal traders will find ways of poaching and trading as long as markets for their wares exist. Hence, a plan to save the tiger must address not just conservation, but also the demand factors that are leading to its extinction.