03 July 2014 | Interview by Craig KasnoffFred Bagley is project officer for the Asiaportions of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife Without Borders Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund and Great Ape Conservation Fund.
In this capacity he works with international, regional, and local organizations on the conservation of the tiger, greater one-horned rhino, Javan rhino, Sumatran rhino, orangutan and gibbon. He has worked for the Service’s Division of International Conservation since 1989 and, in addition to the grant funds, has managed projects such as the development of the Wildlife Institute of India, follow-up scientific collaboration between the Service and the Institute, and technical assistance to the Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Prior to joining the Division of International Conservation, Fred worked for the Service’s Jackson, Mississippi Endangered Species Field Office and Lafayette, Louisiana Ecological Services Field Office. Fred is a graduate of OhioStateUniversity (BSc and MSc) and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malaysia.
aTJ: How do you see the ‘big’ picture of endangered tigers?
BAGLEY: “I believe that wild tiger populations will continue to exist at those sites where sufficient money, trained personnel and government commitment are available to implement the actions that are needed to conserve them. At those many sites across the range where that is not happening I expect them to be lost.Given the threats that tiger populations face, achieving the modest goal of conserving a sample of representative tiger habitats and populations is still a huge challenge. This will require ongoing vigorous commitment to conserve these areas.Support is needed for conservation work such as anti-poaching patrols and law enforcement investigations and prosecutions, outreach and conservation education for communities living on the fringes of tiger habitats, tiger and prey assessments (as a measure of the effectiveness of conservation efforts), advanced training for managers of tiger habitats, and alternative livelihoods development for people impacted by tiger conservation.”
aTJ: What do you see as the ‘leading’ cause for the tigers plight? Is there one in specific?
BAGLEY: “The growth of the human population and the problems associated with more people are the leading causes of the tiger’s plight. More people results in more encroachment on habitats, more poaching of tiger prey for food, more demand for tiger products, more killing of tigers for trafficking, and greater fragmentation of habitats due to roads and other infrastructure.”
BAGLEY: “There is no one solution!
Saving the tiger requires high level support from the leaders of tiger range countries and the people of those countries. It also requires sustained interest and support from those of us who live in non-range countries but care about the tiger’s survival. Scientists, conservationists and governments know what must be done to save the tiger. Now, we just have to do it!
BAGLEY: “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages the Wildlife Without Borders Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund which provides grants (typically $50,000 to $60,000) in support of on-the-ground rhino and tiger conservation projects.
In 2011 this fund provided 1.7 million U.S. dollars (35 grants distributed among 10 countries) in support of tiger conservation and was matched by an additional 2.1 million dollars in matching funds and in-kind contributions. Those grants addressed a wide range of conservation topics including:
* Anti-poaching activities at Bhutan’s Royal Manas National Park, China’s Hunchun Nature Reserve, India’s Kaziranga and Manas national parks and the proposed Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, Indonesia’s Kerinci Seblat National Park, Lao PDR’s Nam Et Phou Louey National Protected Area, Malaysia’s Endau-Rompin landscape, and Russia’s Sikhote-Alin Nature Reserve.
* Tiger and prey population assessments in Bangladesh’s Sundarbans and India’s Kaziranga and Melghat national parks as well as various landscapes in Karnataka.
* Tiger conservation education for communities around India’s Corbett, Kaziranga and Dibru-Saikhowa national parks.
* Illegal trade in tiger parts in Nepal through support of a wildlife crimes database and in China tracking the origin of illegally traded tiger parts using DNA.
* Tiger/human conflict through strengthening tiger response teams in Bangladesh’s Sundarbans and in Nepal by investigating solutions to human tiger conflict around ChitwanNational Park.
* Capacity development for tiger conservation in India’s states of Assam and Rajasthan through provision of legal training to forest guards; wildlife management training at the Wildlife Institute of India for forest department officials of tiger range countries; and in Indonesia’s Aceh Province through strengthening provincial and district capacity to manage tigers, their prey and their threats.”
aTJ: What do you think the ‘everyday’ person can do to help save endangered tigers?
BAGLEY: “Buy a tiger stamp from the U.S. Post Office!”
“In this time of increased need for support of tiger conservation, the U.S. Congress is making it possible for individual Americans to easily contribute to tiger conservation as well as conservation of other much loved species…by simply buying a stamp.”
“Legislation passed by Congress has created the ‘Save Vanishing Species’ Semipostal stamp. A Semipostal stamp is one whose cost (currently 55 cents) marginally exceeds the cost of postage (currently 44 cents). Ten cents of the price of the stamp is then made available to support a particular cause. The first such wildlife stamp went on sale at U.S. Post Offices on September 20, 2011, and features the image of an Amur tiger cub.”
“Proceeds from the stamp’s sale will be equally divided among the Multinational Species Conservation Funds administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and used to provide additional grants. This program includes the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund as well as other funds for African elephants, Asian elephants, great apes, and marine turtles.”
aTJ would like to thank Fred Bagley for his generosity for both responding to these questions and for the time he has taken to help EEJ understand the complexities of the endangered tiger issue.
Find organizations saving endangered tigers at Saving Endangered Tigers.