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Clemson, Auburn, LSU and Mizzou team up to save wild tigers

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Clemson University has teamed up with several other schools to form the U.S. Tiger Consortium to help preserve the wild tiger population. Over the last century, the world’s tiger population has fallen by about 95 percent according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

They shout it at Auburn University, the University of Missouri and Louisiana State University. And, of course, the students here at Clemson proudly exclaim: “Go Tigers!”
But what if, one day, there were no more actual tigers?
While all of these schools share a mascot, many of their students are likely unaware of the great threat tigers are facing worldwide. Over the last century, the world’s tiger population has fallen by about 95 percent according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Of the nine subspecies of tigers, three are now extinct.
In response, Clemson University has teamed up with other schools to form the U.S. Tiger University Consortium to help preserve the wild tiger population.
Clemson University President James Clements is helping to spearhead this effort.
“I’m partnering with my fellow presidents and chancellors at Auburn, LSU and Missouri to help raise awareness about the dwindling population of wild tigers,” Clements said in a statement. Clements serves on the Global Tiger Initiative Council as well.
There are only about 3,900 tigers left in the wild spanning 13 different countries, with about 70 percent being in India, according to the WWF. Currently, the two biggest issues leading to tiger endangerment are loss of habitat and poaching. Many community members living in close proximity to tiger reserves live in poverty, causing them to poach in order to make money.
Brett Wright, dean of the Clemson University College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences, helped create the consortium to address these issues.
“Our vision is to get the resources and the expertise at these wonderful universities and to put them to bear on some of these issues,” Wright said.
Wright added that because human beings have created the threat, we must find a solution.
“It’s more than the animals,” he said. “It’s everything around that animal where the challenges are.”
Members of the consortium have laid out four areas where they can help with tiger conservation efforts and overcome other challenges.
The first area is training and capacity building. Wright said the aim is to “build up human capital so they have the leadership capabilities and the knowledge to be able to manage more efficiently and effectively.”
The second area is research. Wright said there is a wide range of issues that can benefit from research, including landscape level conservation, which will allow for better planning when it comes to the location of tiger reserves.
The third area is technology transfer. Computer science developments can be “applied back to managing wandering and protecting tigers” as well as “counting and monitoring the animals” Wright said.
Lastly, the consortium plans to focus on outreach and awareness. They intend to get involved with various social media campaigns, as well as work with Clemson University’s Tigers for Tigers Club. According to Tigers for Tigers president Evelyn Ann Borucki, the club is a “conservation group that works towards educating our campus and community on the current state of tiger endangerment and how we can make a difference.”
Wright said that outreach and awareness is a major part of the consortium’s efforts.
“If we can capture a few of those people that every day say “Go Tigers!” and make them understand what’s going on, then we’ve done well,” said Wright.
Wright said that if things don’t change soon, tigers “could be gone in ten years” and that “we could lose our mascot if we’re not careful.”

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