Today, IUCN’s Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme (ITHCP) is launching a call for field-based projects for tiger conservation. Nine tiger range countries are eligible for funding under this programme and multidisciplinary projects delivered by collaborative partnerships are encouraged. The five-year programme is funded by the German government through the KfW Development Bank.
Wild tigers will soon become extinct if nothing is done to halt their decline. Population numbers are estimated at 2,500 and tigers alarmingly now occupy only 6 to 7% of their former range.
Threats to tigers include illegal hunting, habitat destruction and loss of prey. They are hunted for their highly valued skins and their body parts, which are used as a component of many traditional Chinese medicines. Conversion of forest land to agriculture, commercial logging, and human settlement are the main drivers of tiger habitat loss.
Tigers are highly reliant on adequate prey resources and eat the equivalent of a large deer a week. In many areas, natural prey populations are reduced as a result of hunting by local communities, or through competition with livestock. In these areas, tigers often turn to livestock as an alternative food source, bringing them into conflict with local communities. This leads to a greater number of attacks by tigers on humans and in turn more retaliatory attacks by humans on tigers. The interactions are complex and both tigers and humans suffer as a result.
The aim of the ITHCP is to deliver field-based projects aimed at tiger conservation through addressing some of the issues described. By developing sustainable alternative livelihoods for local communities, the pressure on forest resources can be reduced. At the same time the quality of protected areas can be improved so that they support greater numbers of prey and ultimately healthier tiger populations. Reducing the direct conflict between tigers and humans should alleviate some of the pressures on both parties, enabling a more harmonious coexistence. In addition to this, the programme aims to tackle the poaching of wild tigers.
The call for proposals will initially be in the form of project concepts. A Project Advisory Committee will select candidate projects from these that should then be submitted in the form of full proposals. The application deadline is 30 November 2014.
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