ILYA LAGUTENKO IN WASHINGTON to Announce New Global Initiative to Reverse Decline in Tiger Numbers — press-release

WASHINGTON, June 9, 2008 ─ A worldwide alliance of tiger conservationists, scientists and celebrities have joined forces with the World Bank to help save wild tigers. Ilya Lagutenko, lead singer of Mumiy Troll, has flown to Washington, to announce, with Harrison Ford, this new initiative.

Tiger numbers globally have declined from more than 100,000 a century ago to around 4,000 today. There are about 450 Amur tigers left in Russia. The decline is driven by a loss of prey and habitat due to uncontrolled development and poaching for the black-market trade in tiger skins and bones. In Russia the situation facing tigers is dire, with habitat being lost to illegal logging and uncontrolled fires whilst the Amur tigers themselves are subject to poaching for the body parts which go to China to be used in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

The health of the tiger population is an indicator of biodiversity and a barometer of sustainability. Since tigers are at the top of the food chain, the conservation of wild tigers also means the preservation of the habitats in which they live and the prey populations that support them.

The new Tiger Conservation Initiative, launched today at the Smithsonian`s National Zoo in Washington D.C., brings together many of the global experts who have been studying the decline of tiger populations and the many national and international NGOs which have been fighting to save tigers.

There is a glimmer of hope in Russia as it is the only country that has tigers where the populations have remained stable. This is also true of its lesser know cousin, but extremely rare, Amur leopard.

AMUR was created in 2001 as a Russo-British charity aiming to provide support to the conservation effort for both Amur tigers AND Amur leopards. Ilya Lagutenko is PATRON of the charity. Ilya grew up in the Russian Far East and so has a personal connection to the area where Amur tigers and leopards live. He is passionate about saving these big cats for future generations of not only Russians but the whole planet. In fact, he is so passionate that Mumiy Troll named their latest album AMBA, which is an Udege word for the Amur tiger.

“Modern conservation is an extremely complex process and involves input from legislative bodies, commercial organisations and conservation agencies to bring together all the scientific, field work, political and market expertise that is needed to deal with the issues facing the planet`s wildlife. This is no more true than for the remaining wild tigers in Russia. As a result I welcome this initiative from the World Bank to start a dialogue to explore ways to unite the global efforts at many levels to aid the conservation effort. I am optimistic for the future of wild tigers as in Russia we have demonstrated that it is at least possible to keep the fragile populations stable and the aim now must be to start building a healthier planet for future generations. I am therefore pleased that AMUR is partnering the World Bank to start this dialogue for the future of all tiger populations■ said Sharon Miller founder of AMUR

«Just as with many of the other challenges of sustainability—such as climate change, pandemic disease, or poverty—the crisis facing tigers overwhelms local capabilities and transcends national boundaries,» said World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick. «This is a problem that cannot be handled by individual nations alone. It requires an alliance of strong local commitment backed by deep international support

The Tiger Conservation Initiative will start with a series of dialogues in tiger range countries to find out what has worked locally to protect the tigers. The World Bank and its partners will assess the financing needs of tiger conservation and collaborate with governments and the private sector to find innovative funding sources and mobilize new resources for the species` protection.

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For more information about AMUR please visit

www.amur.org.uk

For more information on the Bank and its partners work regarding tigers, please visit www.worldbank.org/tigers

* The Tiger Conservation Initiative includes : Aaranyak, American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, AMUR, Animal Welfare Institute, Animals Asia Foundation, Association of Zoos & Aquariums, Big Cat Rescue, Born Free Foundation, Born Free USA, British and Irish Association of Zoos & Aquariums, Care for the Wild International, Conservation International, Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, Education for Nature – Vietnam, Environmental Investigation Agency, Global Tiger Patrol, Humane Society International, Humane Society of the United States, International Fund for Animal Welfare, International Trust for Nature Conservation, PeunPa, Phoenix Fund, Save The Tiger Fund, Species Survival Network, The Corbett Foundation, The Fund For The Tiger, Tigris Foundation, TRAFFIC, 21st Century Tiger, WildAid, Wildlife Alliance, Wildlife Conservation Nepal, Wildlife Conservation Society, Wildlife Trust of India, World Association of Zoos & Aquariums, World Society for the Protection of Animals, WWF, Zoological Society of London.