The survival of wild tigers hinges on the ability of tiger-range countries and their partners in conservation to stop the biggest threat to tigers: poaching. The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, as one of the founding members of the Global Tiger Initiative and with support from the World Bank and other partners, is taking the lead in training protected-area managers who are charged with safeguarding the remaining 3,200 wild tigers and their natural habitats. In January, SCBI's Tiger Conservation Partnership will host a new regional smart patrol training course in Thailand—incorporating the most sophisticated technology available, Management Information System—for frontline staff from Southeast Asian tiger-range countries. Regional Smart Patrol Training for Tiger Conservation will be hosted at the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary from Jan. 6 to Jan. 21 by SCBI's Tiger Conservation Partnership, the World Bank Group, Thailand's Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, and the Wildlife Conservation Society. The training course is part of the largest and most comprehensive effort ever undertaken to train teams of frontline staff from priority tiger ranges, and it will provide them with the support they need after they have completed their training.
If we are going to save tigers, we have to stop the poaching, said Mahendra Shrestha, program director of SCBI's Tiger Conservation Partnership. We're working to help protected areas develop and implement strategic anti-poaching systems on the front lines, which will be crucial to tigers' recovery. The Tiger Conservation Partnership's commitment to helping frontline staff will extend far beyond the two-week training course in Thailand to give tigers the greatest chance to recover.
The smart patrol course will train teams of staff from priority tiger reserves, which are nominated by Southeast Asian tiger range countries. Each team will consist of a protected-area manager, a deputy-level officer, a field patrol team leader and a nongovernmental specialist working together in the same priority protected area. All of the team members will learn how to incorporate smart patrolling techniques and data collected from field patrols into their anti-poaching systems. Using GPS equipment, patrolling with MIST allows rangers to precisely record data in the field and then build comprehensive maps detailing the locations that show signs of poaching and habitat encroachment, as well as tigers and their prey. The data-filled maps allow protected-area frontline staff and rangers to focus their attention where it is needed most to more effectively protect tigers and other wildlife sharing the same habitat.
Training courses, like the one in Thailand and another in Nepal in February, share tiger conservation expertise and expand the use of scientific smart patrolling techniques. SCBI is also developing new training modules covering other best practices in reserve management to be shared with partners and translated into local languages. Both are initiatives the Tiger Conservation Partnership is undertaking to empower tiger-range countries and their partners with cutting-edge technology and scientific knowledge to protect tigers and foster their recovery.
SCBI's Tiger Conservation Partnership is fulfilling a critical role in supporting tiger conservation, said Steven Monfort, director of SCBI. The regional smart patrol training course in Thailand will impart invaluable skills to our colleagues in Southeast Asia, and serve as a significant step in the fight to stop the decline of wild tigers.
The Tiger Conservation Partnership is a collaborative initiative of the SCBI. Working with partners from tiger-range countries, the World Bank, and leading conservation organizations, the partnership is developing a core curriculum for protected area management and is organizing courses and workshops to aid tiger recovery efforts. It is a member of the Global Tiger Initiative, which seeks to double the number of wild tigers by 2022, the next Chinese Year of the Tiger.
Media kits for SCBI's Tiger Conservation Partnership and the Global Tiger Initiative are available online. To follow the Tiger Conservation Partnership's activities, including training courses, read the Stalking Tigers, Saving Species blog and check for news on its Facebook page.