Who Hears The Tiger’s Roar?

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The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) says it wants to double the number of tigers in the world by 2022.  It’s a noble aim but if WWF really wants this to happen, it will pack up its bags and have nothing more to do with tiger conservation. 

WWF's misguided efforts are making things worse for wild tigers

WWF was a major force behind the international ban on commercial trade in tiger products in 1987 and the internal ban introduced by China in 1993.  But these moves haven’t helped.  A hundred years ago there were perhaps 100,000 of the animals.  The global wild tiger population has continued to drop sharply, to around 3,500 animals.  These dismal statistics should be enough to raise more than a few red flags. 

A couple of years ago I participated in a Washington, DC meeting on the subject.  A senior WWF tiger campaign official prescribed at least another fifteen years of the same failed approach.  Will there be any tigers left by then, I wondered aloud. 

Wild tigers face a number of challenges, not least man-tiger conflicts within their extensive habitat in India and China.  But one of the biggest pressures harming tigers also happens to be the international heavyweight lobbying of WWF, which continues to shepherd powerful politicians along the path towards tiger extinction.  And in true liberal style, WWF is busy blaming everyone else for the species’ continued demise. 

The “world’s leading conservation organization” strongly opposes establishing a limited legal trade in tiger products to meet demand in Asia for traditional medicines.  And they are up in arms about tiger farming. 

But, as is the case with other wildlife, regulated trade brings with it the order and oversight that is lacking in a chaotic black market in which illegal poaching and corruption rule. 

WWF is also busy campaigning against captive tigers in the U.S., incorrectly asserting that the nation keeps 5,000 as domestic pets.   Eager to generate public anxiety by casting their owners as foolish and irresponsible, a WWF ‘conservation expert’ told Reuters:  “People don’t realize when they buy a $200 tiger cub that it grows into a full-grown tiger.”  A truer estimate is that fewer than one hundred are kept as pets in the U.S.  Most of the privately-owned tigers are in zoos, sanctuaries, circuses and breeding facilities. 

Meanwhile, WWF’s outreach naturally involves asking the public to send urgent donations to its bulging coffers.  As a stunt to put pressure on this week’s International Tiger Forum in Russia, and to enhance the ‘feel  good’ factor for the emotionally fickle, WWF is parading recordings of supporters roaring for tigers.  

Leonardo DiCaprio provides the celebrity pull for WWF’s lobbying effort, putting his name to a joint opinion editorial in the Washington Post that called for U.S. Secretary of State Clinton to attend this week’s event in order to show “global environmental leadership”.  This translates, of course, into “doing WWF’s bidding”. 

Senator Kerry duly sponsored WWF’s Congressional Resolution on tigers to keep up the pressure.   

But the core aim for WWF is not saving tigers at all.  It all boils down to power and bad, old-fashioned liberalism. 

As with climate change, tigers are simply a means to the end of drastically curtailing economic development.  DiCaprio and WWF CEO Carter Roberts claim in their commentary: “By rescuing them, we save everything beneath their ecological umbrella – everything connected to them – including the world’s last great forests, whose carbon storage mitigates climate change.” 

This is a sleight of hand.  What they are saying from their comfortable perches is that human development must cease through vast swathes of Asia.  If we stop the development, we can claim we are saving tigers, the planet or anything else that might appeal to modern western sensibilities. 

Economic development leads to growing prosperity and greater personal freedom.  The leftist war against capitalism pivots on the power of intellect.  Can mankind concoct a better system than the free market – fairer, collective and more inclusive?  Environmentalism is essentially a means for persuading the public to accept anti-capitalist principles. 

As one conservationist put it to me:  “Like the poachers, groups like WWF have a vested interest in keeping wildlife trade illegal even if it leads to species extinction.”  

Nothing will stop WWF’s campaign.  Endangered wildlife generates income and helps to satisfy an underlying philosophical purpose.  And who in the west can argue against the need to preserve the natural environment on the other side of the world, whatever the costs might be to others?

2 Comments add one

  1. Carl M says:

    While I agree with most of what you’re saying and the WWF seems similar to PETA in regards to the business of collecting money by manipulation, I think it’s more about political power than the fact that they’re liberals. I don’t think conservative politics is always about pure capitalism or laissez faire economics, that would be libertarians. Regardless, I wouldn’t exclude non-liberals as part of the problem with manipulating the public to get what they want, at any cost. However, I would like to see a tally of how many democrats/libs voted for war and killing in general vs. republicans and libertarians. The media leads me to believe republicans want to kill and destroy everything. I’d like to see the truth posted at some point. Who reacted to 9/11? Was it Bush or the fearful and revenge-hungry dems in congress?

    In any case, killing animals for money is big business. I liken the ploy similar to religion. Fear and pity are used to capture donations. You’re one of us or you’re one of them… Who wouldn’t want to save a beautiful tiger? Who wouldn’t respect christian beliefs? Kind of the same tactic if you ask me.

    Now, let’s all go slaughter a turkey for Thanksgiving!

  2. WWF and other similar groups are the biggest tiger exploiters. WWF, with their $400,000,000 plus in assets, has enough money already to help animals and local human populations, who are forced to live with man eaters without any benefit, while WWF is getting rich. Wild tigers kill over 200 humans per year. The official deaths are under-reported, because the government only counts the human fatalities where the person had a permit to enter the forest. The big wildlife groups only seem to care about keeping track of how many wild tigers are killed. Human fatalities by tigers don’t seem to matter to these tiger hugger$$$$. If the donors knew the true extent and human death toll by wild tigers, maybe it would be tougher for WWF and others to get donations out of ignorant public, who in return get instant gratification naively believing they just saved a tiger?

    WWF’s no trade and anti human approach is failing; why is failure being rewarded in non the profit world???
    WWF just promised 50 million in the next 5 years for tiger conservation, that is 10 million per year. Sounds ‘exciting’ until you realize they spend that much per year on printing alone, with over 100 million dollars spent on functional, aka office expenses, salaries and travel!

    As for the US pet tigers, the 5000 ‘pet tigers’ is a blatant lie and I am glad it is exposed. I guess by WWF’s misleading definition, anybody who privately owns tigers in USA (circus, small zoos, Vegas entertainers) is just a backyard irresponsible idiot ‘pet owner’, and the only ones worth keeping and breeding tigers in USA are donation dependent big zoos. The problem is, currently the big, donation dependent public zoos have a total of only about 180 breeding tigers of 3 different subspecies. How long before they start inbreeding? If the tigers go extinct in the wild, with this short sighted WWF’s approach to ban US private tigers, how can big zoos save them at huge multimillion dollars expense, if they only have 180 breeding individuals? Why is private, self supporting, animal enterprise becoming a dirty word??? Why is exotic pet a dirty word?
    For more WWF info see

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