Tag Archive: Jungle


We Could Lose the Tiger

‘The roar of a wild tiger could soon be replaced by silence if the global summit fails to target the illicit demand driving its decline,’ writes Robert Zoellick of the Guardian.

In 1894, when the Jungle Book was first published, 100,000 tigers roamed the wild. Today, that number has plummeted to 3,200. And Shere Khan’s hunting grounds, the habitats in which all wild tigers live, are disappearing. Tigers now occupy only 7% of their 1894 range.

The extinction of the wild tiger would be an extraordinary tragedy. It would be a tragedy not only because of the appalling loss of these animals, but also because it would pose a threat to the health of the habitats in which they live and the prey that support them. Tigers are an umbrella species – their health reflects the health of surrounding plants and animals.

We know what is causing the decline in numbers of wild tigers: illegal poaching; illegal wildlife trade; loss of habitat through conversion, encroachment, and land degradation. But the good news is we have also found that tiger populations can recover. For them to do so, we have to target the illicit demand that drives tiger decline – because the illegal trade in wildlife is nothing more than organised crime.

This year, 2010, is the Year of the Tiger. During 21-24 November, the global tiger summit in St Petersburg, Russia, will bring together the 13 countries that still have wild tigers, along with some wildlife conservation and development partners. The summit will be an historic occasion, where world leaders will undertake specific commitments with the goal of doubling tiger numbers to 7,000 by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger, and protecting their habitats.

By working to save the wild tigers, we’re protecting a majestic animal so it can continue to stir our imagination, just as it did in Kipling’s day. At the same time, we’re arousing attention about all the biodiversity of our planet.

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“It looks like a meteor strike: From out of nowhere, a huge clearing appears in the jungle — a deep rust-colored pit surrounded by mounds of dirt and thick stands of trees pushed to the side in dense piles of overturned soil.

But this is no act of nature. It is the result of the steady labor of a dozen barefoot men, who have blasted away at the earth for three days with high-pressure water hoses and earth-movers, searching for gold and destroying a swathe of rainforest.

Juergen Plein, a 29-year-old miner, said he needs the work mining, and doesn’t know any other way to get at the precious metal.

“I think about it,” Plein, nearly shouting over the roar of generators, said of the damage. “But survival comes first.”

Thanks to record gold prices, hundreds of small-scale mining operations are proliferating along the northeastern shoulder of South America. Small-scale miners produced a record of nearly 16.5 metric tons of gold in 2009, according to Suriname’s government.

Miners are tearing up trees, poisoning creeks with mercury and, in some places, erecting makeshift jungle towns with shops, prostitutes and churches.” – Ben Fox, AP

Ben Fox seems to think that this ‘tearing up [of] trees and poisoning creeks with mercury’ is a bad idea. He, just as I do, sees the ethical wrongs posed in blowing up precious jungle areas in order to make a profit, and he cares very much about the environment, as an semi-anthropocentric and semi-ecocentric. As world inhabitants, we need to care for the land, and this means keeping rainforests and gold outcrops in the ground safe and intact. The author and I both put a very high premium on the environment as partial ecocentrics and we think that this is an unbelievable betrayal of Mother Nature.

However, Juergen Plein, a resident miner, seems to think that this destruction is acceptable since he makes a profit off the gold he mines, which is a very greedy, part a. Clearly this is a man without an environmental moral compass- if only he could see the damage he is causing the environment, one would hope he would stop.

But this is not the case. Plein and other miners will continue to mine because they make money and have no value for the environment, unlike myself and the author of the article. As this devastation continues, rainforest will be unable to grow back and gold will be exploited further as it will be easier to do so, resulting in positive feedback that could go on until Suriname’s rainforest ceases to exist.

But hopefully not.