DiCaprio, Putin and the all-star plot to save tigers

A A A

The unlikely pairing of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio emerged this week as they became figureheads in the battle to save the tiger at a summit in St Petersburg.

The forum was described as the "last chance" for the world's biggest cat. Mr Putin hosted the conference to discuss a World Bank proposal for a tiger-saving initiative. It was the first time global leaders have met specifically to talk about saving an endangered species.

The goal is to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022, the next Chinese Year of the Tiger. Currently there are just 3,200 wild tigers, down from over 100,000 a century ago. Stocks of the animal have been depleted due to poachers, who sell their skins and body parts at markets in China and other Asian countries, and by urbanisation destroying their natural habitats.

Mr DiCaprio, a board member of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), travelled to St Petersburg for the forum and pledged $1m (£634,000) of his own money to the organisation's tiger-conservation programmes. The actor recently visited Nepal and Bhutan, touring tiger habitats with WWF experts and local anti-poaching authorities.

The forum, which ended yesterday, attracted leaders from most of the 13 countries where tigers are found in the wild, including the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. The delegates pledged to spend a combined total of $350m over the next five years. Mr Putin quoted Mahatma Gandhi in addressing the forum: "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."

The WWF's director general, Jim Leape, said: "Here is a species that is literally on the brink of extinction. If we cannot succeed now, if current trends continue, by 2022 we will have only scattered remnants of the populations left."

But activists from conservation groups said that the success of the agreed package will depend on how well the measures are enforced. John Sellar, the chief enforcement officer for the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species, said that it was imperative to set up a consortium to fight poaching and smuggling.

"The key thing is enforcement," he told Reuters. "The situation is now so serious that if we don't get enforcement very soon then the money that we're spending in other areas, one could almost say, is flushing down the toilet."

Mr Putin paid special thanks to Mr DiCaprio, saying that he had forced his way to St Petersburg "as if he was going across the front line". The American actor had been on a plane that had to return to New York due to engine failure, so he then took a private plane.

Mr Putin said that not everyone would be brave enough to have taken another flight after the first incident. "In Russia, we call this 'a real man'," said the Prime Minister, who himself is fond of portraying a fearless, macho image to Russian voters. Some of the stunts used to bolster his image have involved tigers – in the past Mr Putin has shot a full-grown female tiger with a tranquilliser gun to place a tracking collar on her and he was given a tiger cub for his 56th birthday. That animal is now living in a zoo in southern Russia.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - Investment Management

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...

Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pillar 1, 2 & 3) Insurance

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pilla...

Manager - SAS - Data Warehouse - Banking

£350 - £365 per day: Orgtel: Manager, SAS, Data Warehouse, Banking, Bristol - ...

Web Analyst – Permanent – West Sussex – Up to £43k

£35000 - £43000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment