History of the GTI
The Global Tiger Initiative (GTI) was launched in 2008 as a global alliance of governments, international organizations, civil society, the conservation and scientific communities and the private sector, with the aim of working together to save wild tigers from extinction. In 2013, the scope was broadened to include Snow Leopards.
The GTI’s founding partners included the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Smithsonian Institution, Save the Tiger Fund, and International Tiger Coalition (representing more than 40 non-government organizations). The initiative is led by the 13 tiger range countries (TRCs).
In November 2010, leaders of the tiger range countries (TRCs) assembled at an International Tiger Forum in St. Petersburg, Russia to adopt the St. Petersburg Declaration on Tiger Conservation and endorsed its implementation mechanism, called the Global Tiger Recovery Program. Their overarching goal was to double the number of wild tigers across their geographical area from about 3,200 to more than 7,000 by 2022.
Role of the World Bank
The World Bank hosted the GTI Secretariat until July 1 2015 and acted as a convener of a global network working to save wild tigers and snow leopards from extinction. The Secretariat helped with the strategic imperatives agreed to in the St. Petersburg Declaration on Tiger Conservation and the Global Tiger Recovery Program.
Results and challenges
Within two years of the summit in St. Petersburg the implementation of the Global Tiger Recovery Program moved forward with notable progress on the frontlines in many of the tiger range countries.
Among other actions, GTI partners launched a two-week hands-on training for 815 wildlife conservation professionals from national parks and protected areas in South East Asia on sharing best conservation practices that could help those in tiger range countries, enhanced by GTI partners’ scientific, technical, and management expertise.
Other successes include:
- In India, Tiger Population in India increases from 1706 in 2010 to 2226 in 2015, an impressive 30.5 percent increase.
- 60 percent increase in tiger numbers in Nepal between 2009 and 2012.
- Alternative livelihoods provided under the World Bank/GEF India Ecodevelopment Project resulted in a group of poachers completely giving up poaching at the Periyar Tiger Reserve in the Indian state of Kerala.
- The Bangladesh Forest Department conducted a census of Bengal tigers in the country and used the data to monitor the size and density of tiger population in the Bangladesh Sundarbans.
- 30 Bangladesh forestry department officials completed a certificate training course on wildlife management at the Wildlife Institute of India. In total, more than 800 forest department officials have received in-country training.
- Implementation of 34 subprojects on habitat improvement, eco-tourism development and human-wildlife conflict mitigation.
But vast challenges remain:
- Threats to Habitats and Connectivity: Threats to tiger habitats remain significant and are predicted to intensify with rapid infrastructure development and investment in extractive industries.
- Poaching and Wildlife Crime Control: Poaching and wildlife crime continue to be major concerns, with poaching remaining a significant issue, while it remains to accurately pinpoint overall trends and indicators of wildlife crime and assessments of law enforcement efforts.
- Capacity Building: Developing institutional capacity and national centers of excellence are priority activities to scale up current efforts.
- Scientific Monitoring: Monitoring results are essential for guiding management interventions, such as identification of poaching corridors around the world.
- Demand Elimination: Eliminating demand for tiger products remains a significant hurdle.
- Rebuilding Tiger Populations: Sharing existing experience on how to rebuild tiger populations is a priority and essential for countries that are working to prevent the extinction of the species.