Project Predator, an initiative to protect and save the world’s last surviving wild tigers was unveiled today at the 80th INTERPOL General Assembly, a gathering of global law enforcement officials from the organization’s 190 member countries.
Created by INTERPOL, Project Predator unites the efforts of police, customs and wildlife officials in the 13 countries in Asia where wild tigers can still be found. This new partnership under the Global Tiger Initiative brings together officials from the 13 tiger range countries, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the World Bank, the Smithsonian Institution and INTERPOL.
“Unscrupulous poachers are threatening the few remaining wild tigers with extinction, and we must all work together to protect this iconic species. Through Project Predator, INTERPOL is again showing this commitment and determination to protect not only tigers, but the wider wildlife and ecosystems at risk from criminals,” said David Higgins, Manager of INTERPOL’s Environmental Crime Programme.
The Project Predator initiative will provide capacity building to law enforcement agencies to combat tiger crimes, strengthening their ability to work with wildlife officials using advanced, intelligence-led methods of investigation. In addition, the initiative will encourage countries to establish and resource National Tiger Crime Task Forces.
In a video address to the INTERPOL General Assembly in Hanoi, Robert B. Zoellick, President of the World Bank Group and founder of the Global Tiger Initiative, said, “I’m particularly proud of the catalytic role being played by the Global Tiger Initiative, and the Bank Group’s early contribution toward Project Predator. This innovative effort among tiger range countries – including right here in Vietnam – will reduce trafficking in tiger parts, with the add-on effect of reducing other wildlife crime in Asia.” He further urged leaders “to give their criminal justice systems the power and resources to protect wildlife, forests, and fisheries from those who are plundering the planet’s natural capital and countries’ living heritage.”
Due to poaching and habitat degradation and fragmentation, the estimated 100,000 tigers that roamed Asia in 1900 have now dwindled to fewer than 3,500 across the tiger range countries.
“If poaching and trafficking continue at present rates, we may have a generation that will never know what a live, wild tiger is. Project Predator will enable police, customs and wildlife officials to share information they’ve gathered to keep tigers from disappearing forever,” said Frank Donovan, Mission Director for USAID/Vietnam. More....