Discovery Communications announced today a historic partnership with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) through which Discovery will fund and help conserve nearly 1 million acres of protected habitat in India and Bhutan to protect and increase the wild tiger population.
“The global movement to protect tigers just got one million acres stronger,” said David Zaslav, President and CEO of Discovery Communications, who made today’s announcement. “Discovery is a purpose-driven company, and for more than 30 years we’ve had cameras in every corner of the globe, from PLANET EARTH to RACING EXTINCTION, documenting and inspiring audiences about the beauty and splendor of our planet. Unfortunately, our cameras also have captured the fragile state of much of the world and its animals. So today we take a bold step further, beyond the lens, to protect one of our most iconic and endangered species. Not on our watch will we let these beautiful animals disappear from the world. We will shine a light on this compelling cause and amplify it through our global brands and platforms with the goal of doubling the wild tiger population by 2022.”
In the last century alone, the wild tiger population has dropped an astonishing 96%, to less than 4,000 left in the wild due to habitat loss and pervasive poaching. Given ample space, prey and protection from poaching, tiger populations can rebound.
Discovery’s sponsorship of this transboundary landscape in which World Wildlife Fund has been a conservation partner with the governments of India and Bhutan, will allow rangers to more closely monitor tiger health and other key scientific data, take additional anti-poaching safeguards, and maintain land and corridors to improve movement of all wild animals.
The effort to double tigers – a species at the top of the food chain – will protect other endangered species and stimulate a healthy ecosystem across the nearly 1 million acre site. For more information on Project C.A.T., please go to discovery.com/projectCAT.
Along with sponsorship of the habitat, Discovery will leverage its formidable creative capabilities and unmatched global multiplatform distribution of channels to 3 billion cumulative worldwide viewers to support WWF’s Tx2 effort, which began in 2010, to double the population of wild tigers across the world by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger.
Discovery will create original public service announcements and in-program content tied to Project C.A.T. to drive awareness and encourage viewers around the globe to take action to support wild tigers.
Reinforcing its commitment, Discovery has put into development a new documentary on tigers from Orlando von Einsiedel’s Grain Media, the Academy(R) Award nominated producers of VIRUNGA, which will air on Discovery’s networks globally in 2018.
WWF’s efforts include conservation of additional tiger sites, across all 13 tiger range countries, with rigorous scientific analysis and monitoring of tigers and their prey, as well as advocating for and raising awareness of tiger conservation and eliminating illegal wildlife trade around the world.
“Tiger populations are rising for the first time in a century,” said Carter Roberts, president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund (WWF). “These numbers reflect the extraordinary commitment of regional leaders and leading philanthropists to double the population of tigers in the wild. We need even more of a movement to accomplish these goals. Discovery’s devotion to conservation and impressive reach can only inspire others to join the cause.”
For 30 years, Discovery’s real-world entertainment and documentaries have captured the wonder of the natural world and wild animals. Today, many of those projects have been impacted by environmental deterioration:
– ICEBERG ALLEY, the first show to air on Discovery Channel in 1985 about the frigid waters of the North Atlantic, is now impacted by trillions of tons of ice lost on Greenland’s ice sheet. In 2008, polar bears were listed as endangered species because of the ice loss.
– Animal’s Planet landmark series THE CROCODILE HUNTER, which followed Steve Irwin through Australia’s wild animal kingdoms, often underwater, now faces a deteriorating Great Barrier Reef with half the coral lost.
– SHARK WEEK, Discovery Channel’s iconic week of programming, now is confronted with the illegal killing of as many as 75 million sharks annually, primarily due to demand for shark fin soup. This year, Discovery partnered with Oceana and encouraged viewers to send letters to legislators to support the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act to ban the buying and selling of shark fin products in the U.S.
– RACING EXTINCTION, which aired in more than 220 countries and territories in 24 hours last December, took a broad and sweeping viewing at endangered species, and compelled viewers to take action to reverse those declines and climate change.
Most recently, Discovery and the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, launched an originally created public service announcement narrated by actor Edward Norton encouraging individuals to take action and stop illegal trade and purchase of animal products around the world. The PSA is currently airing in the U.S. and Africa, and soon will appear across Discovery’s networks in Asia.