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Area Youth Host March to Save Wild Tigers Saturday May 28 | Environment

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Area Youth Host March to Save Wild Tigers Saturday May 28
Area Youth Host March to Save Wild Tigers Saturday May 28


     WASHINGTON, DC – Members of the Youth For Conservation Forum (YFCF) announced today plans for a March to Save Wild Tigers, to be held outside of the main gates of the National Zoo (3001 Connecticut Avenue, NW) on Saturday, May 28, 2011 from 11:00am to 2:00pm.  The event is being hosted to raise awareness of the plight of wild tigers and the efforts of the Global Tiger Initiative (GTI), an international alliance of the 13 tiger range countries and international organizations dedicated to saving wild tigers from extinction.


This event comes to us from Jennifer Devlin:

The Youth For Conservation Forum was founded last year by National Cathedral School student Stephanie Leontiev as a way to support the GTI’s initiatives, including the Global Tiger Recovery Program.  “My generation has inherited the tiger crisis and if we don’t act now, we could be the last generation to appreciate these magnificent animals,” noted Stephanie.  “The goal for this march is to raise awareness among youth and to encourage our peers to raise their voices in support of efforts to avert this wildlife crisis and the potential extinction of the species. We need to be prepared to make the right decisions on the future of our planet,” she noted.

Inspired by Stephanie, Conor Bagley started a YFCF club at Georgetown Day School in the hopes of spreading the word about the plight of the wild tiger.  “When she told me about the effort, I had no idea that these magnificent cats were in trouble, and I certainly never thought they were endangered,” noted Conor.  “This cause is extremely important because, to me, the tiger is one of the great iconic species in human history and its demise will be regretted as one of the major conservation failures of the 21st century if nothing is done to protect them.  We strive every day to preserve a world in which the tiger isn’t merely a storybook fantasy, but an exotic truth and a testament to what we as children, as adults, and as a globally united people can do for our Earth,” he added.

The March will begin outside of the front entrance of the National Zoo, where Stephanie Leontiev, Conor Bagley and other youth leaders will deliver remarks.  It will then proceed in a loop on Connecticut Avenue between Devonshire Place and Cathedral Avenue.  Tiger-related goods will be sold in front of the zoo gates before, during and after the walk. Proceeds from the sale of T-shirts, wristbands, toys and other items will be donated to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), which works to protect tigers throughout their range. IFAW, which provided educational materials and other support for this event and for YFCF, also educates more than 5,000,000 young people worldwide each year about animals and our shared environment.                                                   


"I'm thrilled to see young people gathering to send a message about the fate of the tiger and efforts to protect it. Wild tigers are in trouble and it's going to take the collective efforts of individuals, governments and businesses to ensure their long term survival." says Dr. Barney Long, World Wildlife Fund's Tiger Program Manager.

A once healthy population of more than 100,000 wild tigers has now dwindled to less than 3,200 wild tigers in existence.   Of the nine sub-species of tiger once in existence, only six sub-species remain.  Poaching, habitat loss, fragmentation, poor development choices and other factors have led to the near extinction of the world’s wild tiger population.  Analysts predict that the wild tiger population could become extinct by the year 2022, if immediate action isn’t taken to save tigers. 


Both Conor and Stephanie were inspired to act after learning about the Global Tiger Recovery Program that was endorsed at the International Tiger Forum (“Tiger Summit”) held last November in St. Petersburg, Russia, hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin, with support from World Bank President Robert Zoellick. Celebrities, including film star Leonardo DiCaprio, who pledged $1 million of his own money, joined world leaders and conservationists in an effort that mobilized significant funding toward tiger conservation efforts and the goal of doubling the world’s tiger population by 2022.