CLEMSON, South Carolina — Fans from two schools with tiger mascots will fill Death Valley this Saturday as Clemson faces off against Auburn in football, but a group of international leaders in tiger conservation will convene in Clemson before the game to discuss their approach to saving real tigers.

Members of the Global Tiger Initiative Council will meet at the Madren Center on Friday to discuss progress and next steps in their efforts to save wild tiger populations worldwide.

Clemson University President James P. Clements serves on the council and was responsible for initiating the U.S. Tiger University Consortium that includes Clemson, Auburn, Louisiana State University and the University of Missouri, all schools with tiger mascots. Clements said he is excited to welcome members of both consortium and council to Clemson.

“I am proud to be a part of this council; the opportunity to host its many members in Clemson is exciting,” Clements said. “The council members’ willingness to travel from points across the globe to convene in Clemson speaks volumes to their commitment to this effort, and I look forward to seeing what results from a meeting of so many individuals who are passionate about saving wild tiger populations.”

The council, made up of business and conservation leaders, was formed to assist the Global Tiger Forum in saving remaining populations of wild tigers with a goal of doubling tiger numbers in the wild by 2022. Thanks in part to the council’s efforts, tiger numbers in 2016 were on the rise for the first time in 100 years, but the work to restore their numbers fully is just getting started.

Keshav Varma, CEO and executive director of the council, is pleased thus far with its progress. Clemson and Auburn’s work toward knowledge exchange and planned research support through the consortium will add expert knowledge backed by data. The council’s work to enhance management effectiveness outside of tiger reserves and improve conservation dialogue across multiple tiger range countries is a concrete step in the right direction.

Tiger Consortium 3

Representatives of the U.S. Tiger University Consortium and Global Tiger Forum (left to right): Mohnish Kapoor, administrator for the Global Tiger Forum; Tim Boosinger, Auburn University provost; Brett Wright, dean of Clemson’s College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences; Keshav Varma, founding director of the Global Tiger Initiative and COO of the Global Tiger Initiative Council; Robert Jones, Clemson University provost; Rob Baldwin, Margaret Lloyd Chair, Clemson University Department of Wildlife and Environmental Conservation.
Image Credit: Jeryl Jones

However, Varma said the need for stronger infusion of science and modern technology in conservation efforts is still present. Technology will be a key element in enabling connectivity in efforts, coordinating global support and building alliances and awareness.

“The conversation about conservation needs to change,” Varma said. “This council alone won’t solve the problem; more businesses and industries need to be made advocates and supporters so that we can build capacity on the front lines of this effort. We hope to make clear progress toward this goal during the council meeting.”

Special messaging to communicate the council and consortium’s work is planned during the Clemson-Auburn game. For more information about Clemson’s role in tiger conservation and to find out how people can donate to the cause, click here.

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Media advisory

The council meeting will be held Friday, Sept. 8, in the Clyde V. Madren Conference Center Executive Board Room from 3-5 p.m. Media are invited to attend the event from 2:30-3:30 p.m. to speak to council members and hear opening remarks. Special messaging to communicate the council and consortium’s work is planned during the Clemson-Auburn game on Sept. 9.