Today is Tiger Day. Thousands of school children will celebrate annual Tiger Day in Vladivostok, Russia to promote appreciation and conservation of one of the world’s most iconic and endangered species. Children in at least thirteen countries from China to Kenya, will join the celebration via video messages presented by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

Over the past century, the worldwide population of wild tigers has plunged from 100,000 to as few as 3,000, primarily due to rampant poaching and habitat loss. “Tiger Day offers a unique opportunity to alert people to the grave threats tigers face, and what has to be done to save them from extinction,” said Masha Vorontsova, Director of IFAW Russia. “Tiger Day is a holiday for all, which reminds us that the future of tigers is in our own hands.” The tiger celebration was first held in Vladivostok in 2000 and is now celebrated in villages and towns throughout the Primorsky region, a small corner of the Russian Far East that is home to the world’s last 300-400 Amur (Siberian) tigers.

This Tiger Day falls during an especially significant year for tiger conservation. 2010 is the Year of the Tiger in the Chinese zodiac and the UN International Year of Biodiversity. In November, Russia will host a Global Tiger Summit for leaders of tiger range countries and others to announce new plans with specific commitments and time-lines to save these critically-endangered wild animals.

IFAW works on the front lines of tiger protection. Ranger teams have reduced the poaching of tigers and their prey in protected reserves of the Russian Far East. IFAW has also trained and equipped a third of India’s anti-poaching force. Through campaigns in China and Asia, IFAW is working to close down the international black market for tiger body parts that fuels tiger poaching. The organization is also pioneering new methods for rescuing and rehabilitating orphaned and injured wild tigers, with the goal of returning them to the wild. For further information, visit IFAW.

Tiger graphic is provided by Bush Warriors and may be shared.

Bountiful Blessings!