Delegates and leaders at St. Petersburg, expected to include World Bank president Robert Zoellick, will confer on the issues that have brought wild tigers to the brink of extinction, primarily due to poaching and habitat loss.
Populations of tigers in the wild have continued to drop. Only 3,200 are estimated to remain, occupying a mere 7 percent of their original range. Saving tigers from their current road to extinction will require strong political commitments from the top leaders of the tiger range countries and support from the world community.
The St. Petersburg summit is expected to build on new momentum established by several international events on tiger conservation in 2010, the International Year of the Tiger. The Government of Republic of Indonesia also convened a strategic planning session, bringing together key government officials and conservation partners from all 13 tiger range countries (TRC) and other friends of tigers countries (including the United States) in July 2010, to prepare for the Tiger Summit in Russia. Save The Tiger Fund, Global Tiger Initiative and other conservation partners supported the Pre-Tiger Summit Partners Dialogue Meeting, which took place in Bali, Indonesia. Attendees drew on the national tiger recovery program developed by the TRCs through the recent national consultations to build political and financial support in preparation for the summit. A detailed program and draft declaration for the Summit was prepared by the TRC delegates and the stakeholders at the meeting.
As summit-goers gather in St. Petersburg, Russia is striving to protect and recover its own Amur tiger population. The Russian Far East is the home to the Amur (or Siberian) tiger, the biggest cat species in the world, which inhabits the temperate taiga forest near the country's border with China.
Tigers in Russia have experienced a significant decline recently, after a recovery from less than 30 individuals in the late 1940s to almost 500 animals in 2005. The last full range survey, conducted every 10 years, estimated population size at 428-502, compared to 1995 survey estimates of 415-476 tigers. Amur tiger population was considered stable between 1995 and 2005 where tiger population was estimated at 415-502.
A yearly monitoring program in key tiger habitats is designed to act as an “early warning system” in case changes in tiger population occur between full range surveys. Every winter, tigers and their prey are counted across 23,555 km2 square kilometers (over 9,000 square miles), which represent 15-18 percent of the existing habitat in Russian Far East. The 2009 survey reported a significant decline in tigers and prey affecting the stable population of Amur tigers.
STF has supported Amur tiger conservation since its establishment in 1995 and invested in these monitoring programs consistently for more than ten years.