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Celebrities join World Bank to help save tigers

'Indiana Jones' star supports initiative to save endangered species

World Bank President Robert Zoellick and actor Harrison Ford take part in the launch of the Tiger Conservation Initiative at the National Zoo in Washi...

World Bank President Robert Zoellick and actor Harrison Ford take part in the launch of the Tiger Conservation Initiative at the National Zoo in Washi...

Hollywood celebrities Harrison Ford, Bo Derek and Robert Duvall on Monday threw their support behind a new global initiative by the World Bank to save tigers from extinction.
While the global development agency's main mission is to fight poverty in developing countries, it has rarely taken on wildlife conservation efforts of endangered species.
The new Tiger Conservation Initiative will bring together wildlife experts, scientists and governments to try to halt the killing and thriving illegal trade in tiger skins, meat and body parts used in traditional Asian medicines.
Ford, a long-time environmental activist, said efforts to protect tigers would only succeed if local communities were involved in conservation efforts.
"By committing to help wild tigers, the World Bank is sounding its intention to be a global leader in biodiversity conservation," Ford, the star of the latest "Indiana Jones" movie, told an event at Washington's Smithsonian National Zoo.
'Shocking' decline
World Bank President Robert Zoellick said the decline in the number of tigers was "shocking" from over 100,000 a century ago to currently less than 4,000.
The clearing of large areas of forest land for urban development has added to their decline and disappearance from Central Asia, the Indonesian islands of Java and Bali, and most of China.
A World Bank report warned that "if current trends persist, tigers are likely to be the first species of large predator to vanish in historic times."
"Just as with many other challenges of sustainability, such as climate change, pandemic disease, or poverty, the crisis facing tigers overwhelms local capabilities and it is one that transcends local borders," Zoellick said.
Zoellick said the World Bank would convene a series of discussions with countries, conservationists and the private sector to mobilize funding for tiger conservation, and launch studies on how better to protect the cats.
Brink of extinction
The World Bank chief said that there were examples of where tigers had been brought back from the brink of extinction, such as in Russia and Nepal, but added that saving the world tiger population would not be an easy task.
"All those concerned may not agree but this does not mean we should stand on the sidelines and do nothing," he said.
John Seidensticker, chief scientist at the Smithsonian National Zoo's Conservation Ecology Center, said tiger poaching and trafficking in tiger parts and meat was at an all-time high and the biggest immediate threat to tigers.


Updated : 2021-06-13 20:29 GMT+08:00