Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Save the Tiger

At a meeting in St. Peterburg, Russia, actor Leonardo DiCaprio met with President Putin and donated $1 million to the World Wildlife Fund to protect tiger habit and support anti-poaching activities. Earlier this year, he spearheaded a $20M fund drive. Putin has taken on a personal (if showy) commitment to the tiger, going out himself to tranquilize one for a research program. The Siberian (or Amur) tiger is the only tiger subspecies whose wild population is increasing, although it is far from out of danger.
COMMENT: I sometimes get annoyed when celebrities are ostentatious about their giving, although the publicity they can bring to a cause is also a good thing. So I'll applaud Leonard on this one. The cause needs all the help it can get. Despite heroic actions of wildlife officials and rangers, the wild tiger population is in free-fall, down to about three thousand animals in all the subspecies put together. (Maybe species: some mammologist maintain the Sumatran is a distinct species, although it can mate with other types.) Tiger habitat has to be conserved and patrolled, and people living on its edges need economic support so they are not forced into poaching. That takes money.

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