Washington, Feb 14 : The Wildlife Conservation Society and the Panthera Foundation have announced plans to establish a 5,000 mile-long "genetic corridor" from Bhutan to Burma, which would be the next step in saving the rapidly declining tiger populations.
The corridor, first announced at the United Nations on January 30th, would span eight countries and represent the largest block of tiger habitat left on earth.
The proposed corridor, which includes extensive areas of Bhutan, northeast India, Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia, along with potential connectivity to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, would allow tiger populations to roam freely across landscapes. According to Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, director of Science and Exploration Programs at the Wildlife Conservation Society, genetic corridors, where tigers can travel with less risk of inbreeding, are crucial for their long-term survival in Asia.
"Much like the call-out for global agreements on banning tiger parts in trade, a similar cross-border initiative for genetic corridors is key to the survival of the tiger," said Rabinowitz.
"Tiger range states need to work together, as tigers do not observe political borders nor do they require a visa or passport to travel where habitat and prey remain," he added.
According to Rabinowitz, the corridors did not have to be pristine parkland, but could in fact include agricultural areas, ranches, and other multi-use landscapes - just as long as tigers could use them to travel between wilderness areas.
"We're not asking countries to set aside new parks to make this corridor a success," said Rabinowitz. "This is more about changing regional zoning in tiger range states to allow tigers to move more freely between areas of good habitat," he added.