The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife Without Borders program has joined forces with the Detroit Tigers to enhance a global endangered species conservation initiative to help save tigers. To commence the partnership, the Detroit Tigers have donated $25,000 to the Wildlife Without Borders program.

“Fewer than 3,200 wild tigers exist in the world today, down from 100,000 at the turn of the 20th century. Of this remnant population, just 1,000 are breeding females, individuals that hold the last hope for this magnificent and charismatic great cat,” said Bryan Arroyo, Assistant Director of the Service’s International Affairs program.

The baseball team is partnering with the Wildlife Without Borders’ Tiger Conservation Fund through Pennies for Paws, a coin collection campaign at Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers, which raises funds to save endangered wild tigers and promote tiger conservation. Since the inception of the program in April 2008, Tigers fans have helped to raise nearly $40,000 which has supported tiger conservation projects.

The Wildlife Without Borders’ Tiger Conservation Fund was established in 1994 by the U.S. Congress. The fund supports the conservation of the five surviving tiger subspecies—Bengal, Indo-Chinese, South China, Amur (commonly called Siberian), and Sumatran tigers—all of which are threatened by illegal hunting and poaching and habitat loss.

The threats currently facing tigers are common to those who work to save wildlife and habitats, both in the United States and abroad. Take, for example, the threats to the continued existence of the Amur tiger:

  • Logging and fires – both legal and illegal – are destroying the Amur tiger’s habitat. Each adult tiger needs a huge area — up to about 25 miles by 25 miles for an adult male to find food.
  • Hunting tigers in Russia was banned in 1947, but with the dissolution of the Soviet Union illegal hunting has resumed, fueled by demand from across the borders in China and Korea.
  • Traditional Chinese medicine believes that tiger body parts will cure disease, even though alternatives are available. It is estimated that 30 Amur tigers are killed each year for this illegal trade.
  • Impoverished villagers compete with the Amur tiger for food. Both hunt deer and boars. As prey numbers drop and habitat is lost, the tigers are losing to humans in the resulting competition.

“We are delighted to welcome the Detroit Tigers as a partner in this effort,” said Herbert Raffaele, Chief of the Service’s Division of International Conservation. “Together we can raise awareness of the challenges facing tigers in the wild and engage in meaningful conservation efforts to aid habitat conservation, law enforcement, and reduce consumer demand for tigers and other imperiled wildlife.”

Funding for wildlife conservation projects through the Wildlife Without Borders program includes a $15.5 million suite of grants across the globe. For more information on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife Without Borders program, including detailed summaries of 2011 grant projects from Russia, East Asia, and other regions, visit www.fws.gov/international.

Logo courtesy U.S Fish and Wildlife Service

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