THE WHITE HOUSE
President Clinton today announced that the United States is awarding nine small grants totaling nearly $250,000 to non-government organizations in India to support urgent, on-the-ground conservation projects critical to the survival of endangered tigers and elephants. With matching funds from the Indian government and local groups, the grants will total more than $450,000. The funds will help conserve habitat, expand research and training, and strengthen anti-poaching efforts.
Both tigers and Asian elephants are listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and are covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which prohibits commercial trade in these animals.
The "Greening the Globe" initiative announced by the President earlier this year would nearly double U.S. funding for tropical forest and biodiversity conservation to a total of $150 million in fiscal year 2001. The initiative includes $3 million, a 50 percent increase, to help Asian and African countries protect endangered elephants, tigers, and rhinos. It also proposes increased funding for innovative debt-for-nature swaps, training and technical assistance, and research into causes and prevention of forest fires; and creation of the first comprehensive satellite maps of the world's tropical forests.
Tigers. It is believed that in 1900 India had some 40,000 tigers. Today, it is estimated that no more than 5,000 to 7,000 wild tigers survive throughout the world. About half are in India. Leading threats to tigers are destruction of its forest habitat, hunting and trapping, and poaching to feed the illegal market for traditional medicines containing tiger parts.
India's Project Tiger, launched in 1973, established a network of special "Tiger Reserves" that include a central core area free from all human use and a buffer area where conservation-oriented land use is allowed. There are currently 23 of these special reserves. Over the past two decades, the United States has actively supported research, management, education and training to promote tiger conservation in India. The seven grants announced today to strengthen these efforts are authorized under the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act signed by President Clinton in 1994. Grants under the Act are administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Elephants. The two grants announced today to support elephant conservation projects are the first to be awarded under the Asian Elephant Conservation Act signed by the President in 1998. Approximately 35,000 to 45,000 Asian elephants survive in the wild, compared with more than 600,000 African elephants. India harbors about half of all remaining Asian elephants but their survival is uncertain. In addition to the loss of forest habitat, threats to Asian elephants include population fragmentation, conflicts with humans, and poaching for ivory, meat, and hides.
The grants announced today will go to: