In today’s guest blog for EIA, Save Wild Tigers founder Simon Clinton talks about his abiding passion for the endangered big cats and lifts the lid on several unique fundraising events his initiative has in store throughout the year.
I was recently asked, in a live radio interview in Kuala Lumpur why an Englishman from London, with a background in marketing & advertising, producing TV ads for brands such as The Happy Egg Co, had come to Malaysia to help save wild tigers?
For me the answer was simple – I grew up in Malaysia; indeed, my first exposure to tigers was here as a child in the early ’70s and, like so many people, I have been captivated by their magnificence ever since.
I have always been passionate about conservation; however, around five years ago I was asked to help market and launch Europe’s first-ever tiger art exhibition, here in London at Asia House. Only then did the irony hit me, that this stunning tiger-inspired art exhibition, with some of the pieces dating back thousands of years, could soon be the only way in which we see tigers. Art and pictures … could this really be the legacy we leave our future generations if we do not act, and act quickly?
Simon with actress & activist Joanna Lumley at 2013’s Save Wild Tigers gala night
My reaction was to set up Save Wild Tigers in 2011 as a non-profit organisation, bringing big marketing thinking and creativity to the cause globally. No spin here – the situation is desperate; there are now fewer than 3,500 tigers left in the wild and 95 per cent of their traditional habitat has been destroyed. Having roamed the planet for over two million years, we now face the prospect that we have 10 years left to save the wild tiger, or 10 years until possible extinction. We need to act now, to cut through the negativity, the scepticism and sometimes the simple lack of interest and move forward to inspire and capture the public’s (and core stakeholders’) imaginations. We need to convert that enthusiasm into action and essential, critically required funds. Working very closely with our NGO partners, the Environmental Investigation Agency and the Born Free Foundation, we are forging a powerful team.
However, we should also be clear that this isn’t only about the tiger. It is one of the most iconic species still left on the planet, yet here we are at the 11th hour in a desperate battle to save the species from extinction. What chance have we got of saving the countless other species that will inevitably follow in the tiger’s tracks towards extinction, the elephants, the rhinos, the Lions? The list goes on. If we can’t win this battle, the consequences are too unbearable to imagine.
However, I am an optimist; you have to believe we can win this cause. Equally, this situation can’t be passed down to future generations to fix – we collectively need to make it happen today. Of course, the issues and solutions are hugely complex and multi-faceted, and all highly politically charged. But together, with one voice, we can make a difference.
If you are able, please support Save Wild Tigers, as so many did in March last year at the world’s largest tiger event, Tiger Tracks at London’s historic St Pancras International railway station. Our team of incredible volunteers, along with celebrities such as Brian May and Joanna Lumley, helped us raise over £200,000.
The Eastern & Oriental Express
This year, Save Wild Tigers has more exciting events planned which we hope will raise even more funds and awareness. In October, we plan to take over the stunning Eastern & Oriental Express luxury train which will journey from Singapore to Bangkok, with tiger themed art exhibitions and lectures on board.
We also have our exclusive reception and gala dinner at the Majestic hotel in Kuala Lumpur on October 3, and our tiger dinner at the Mango Tree restaurant in London on May 20. All our profits are focused on high-impact tiger conservation projects implemented via our NGO partners.
The support of so many people and organisations to date has been incredible; however, when you view the Metropolitan Police Wildlife Crime Unit’s confiscated taxidermy specimen of an 11-week-old tiger cub, you have no choice but to get involved.
Let me end on what feels like a really appropriate quote from Sir David Attenborough: “It’s a moral question about whether we have the right to exterminate a species and leave a world that is more impoverished than the one we inherited, simply because of carelessness and greed.”
What more can one say? Please support us, the wild tiger’s survival is in the balance and you can make a difference; join the fight back today, and visit www.savewildtigers.org for more information.
Thank-you, and here’s to a positive 2014 for tigers!