There are fewer than 3,200 wild tigers today, the world has lost 97 percent of tigers due to poaching, climate change and habitat loss. Tiger parts are sold in illegal wildlife markets, used in folk medicine remedies and are status symbols to wealthy Asians. Now, more than ever, tigers must be protected to ensure species survival.
Tigers for Tigers originated at MU in 1999 and is an organization whose goal is to raise tiger awareness. In 1999, Mike Baltz, Ph.D. student, wrote a Maneater article discussing endangered tigers from around the globe and how students needed help. The school’s chancellor, Richard Wallace, decided to internationalize the club so other countries would be aware of what was happening close to them.
“Chancellor Wallace wanted students in Tigers for Tigers to be aware of other issues happening around the world,” said Matthew Gompper, MU professor of fisheries and wildlife, and club adviser.
Ria Landreth, senior fisheries and wildlife major, is Tigers for Tigers president and a fourth-year club member. Landreth is working to recruit new members and spread awareness about the club’s mission.
“What makes Tigers for Tigers special is that we volunteer and raise money for the group,” Landreth said. “We are also visiting Washington, D.C., to speak with Congress about our group. Not many other clubs have the opportunity to do that.”
The club raises awareness through booths on campus and at sporting events and by visiting Columbia schools. Many projects are funded yearly such as trips to zoos to clean big cat cages. There are 30 to 40 annual members. The membership helps to build platforms for zoo cats, which allow cats to stay cool in the sun. As the club adviser since 2002, professor Gompper oversees club activities and helps to spread the mission throughout campus.
Meetings are held every Monday at 7 p.m. in Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building room 115. News updates are available on the Facebook page. Join Tigers for Tigers to preserve the remaining tigers throughout the world.