Sherab Lhamo

Thirteen tiger countries have seen a budget gap of USD 137 million in each country annually. So, they set a target to raise USD one billion multiplying the USD 137 million by ten, said the tiger alive initiative lead, WWF, Stuart Chapman, during the first ever sustainable tiger financing conference at Royal Academy, Paro, yesterday.

The launch for a  new funding over 10 years for the preservation of tiger landscapes is vital for maintaining biodiversity, sequestering of carbon, supplying resources to over 100 million people, and ensuring the overall health of our planet.

Stuart Chapman said this fund would be divided among the tiger countries based on the opportunity, political will, country’s landscape context, and ambition to continue tiger funding.

The conference is hosted by the Government of Bhutan under the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen, Jetsun Pema Wangchuck, and supported by the Tiger Conservation Coalition.

The coalition includes several leading conservation organisations, including the Environmental Investigation Agency, Fauna & Flora International, International Union for Conservation of Nature, Natural State, Panthera, TRAFFIC, United Nations Development Programme, Wildlife Conservation Society, World Wildlife Fund and Zoological Society of London.

Her Majesty said that on the  international Mother’s earth day, it was apt to reflect on meaningful wildlife service.

Her Majesty said: “It is truly heartbreaking that even the tiger is now endangered. If our generation witnesses the extinction of tigers, it means that we have failed. If we allow biodiversity to erode, it means that we have lost our values. If we cannot sustain the ecosystem, it means we have lost the essence of life.”

Her Majesty said that the commitment to conservation must not neglect the realistic and vital need for sustainable funding. Too often, Her Majesty said, the invaluable work of conservationists was impede by the unpredictability of financial support.

“The intention of this conference is to raise significant resources through innovative financing mechanisms for tiger landscapes,” Her Majesty said.

Out of 13 tiger countries, 10 countries are attending the conference.

The Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said:  “Bhutan is honoured to host this globally significant event on tiger landscape conservation as part of our ambitions to be a world leader in environment sustainability, carbon neutrality, and biodiversity conservation.”

Along with raising USD one billion, this initiative seeks to foster community resilience, enabling harmonious coexistence by changing their approach from tiger centric to community-based approach, said  Lobzang Dorji, the director of the department of forest and park, Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources.

In the event there is also silent auctioning for paintings of tigers, according to the Bhutan Trust Fund and Environmental conservation official, 15 percent of the painting profit will go towards tiger conservation.

A first non-fungible token called “Tiger in the snow” was also being shown. The official said that 60 percent of the profit would go towards tiger conservation.

As the world’s largest cat and an apex predator, tigers play a significant role in the structure and function of the ecosystems on which humans and wildlife rely. They are a “landscape” species that need large areas with diverse habitats, free from human disturbance and rich in prey population.

Alongside the Sustainable Finance for Tiger Landscape Conference in Paro, the Greater Himalayas Transboundary Conservation Landscape (GHTCL) Initiative was launched yesterday by the Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay.

To address threats including region warming at a rate faster than the global average that pose a threat to its biodiversity and the vulnerable communities that rely on it, and safeguard both nature and the well-being of the communities in Eastern Himalayan Region, one of the most ecologically diverse and culturally rich regions in the world and home to more than a billion people, which faces unprecedented risk from anthropogenic threats.

This initiative of WWF-Bhutan, WWF-India, and WWF-Nepal, aims to foster regional collaboration, address transboundary cooperation, achieve zero extinction and a thriving key species under threat, and promote resilient communities embracing nature-based economy.

The tiger conference will end tomorrow.