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The UK Will Use Aid Money to Support Sumatran Tigers and Other Endangered Animals

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The UK has announced new plans to use aid funding to protect endangered species while at the same time protecting the livelihoods of local communities. 

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt announced the plans on Friday at ZSL London Zoo, ahead of the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference next month. 

The idea is to tackle the underlying causes of the illegal wildlife trade — mainly poverty and the destruction of habitats — through the creation of sustainable jobs, to give people living near to endangered species a financial alternative to clearing forests and hunting animals.

Take action: Tell Your MP Why You're Proud of UK Aid — and Call on Them to Make It as Effective as Possible

The project will focus on protecting species like orangutans, Asian elephants, West African chimpanzee, and the Sumatran tiger — of which there are just 30 left in one critical habitat. 

“The illegal wildlife trade and the destruction of forests and natural habitats are having a catastrophic impact on both iconic wildlife and the world’s poorest people,” said Mordaunt, announcing the £2.1 million UK aid package.

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“Nobody wants to see extraordinary species become extinct, or the communities living near their habitats struggle for jobs and livelihoods, which is why UK aid has a unique role to play in tackling the underlying causes driving these problems, namely poverty and rapid, unmanaged deforestation,” she said. 

“It’s only by working together with local communities that we will preserve endangered wildlife like the Sumatran tiger, and protect them for future generations,” she said. 

Tanya Steele, chief executive at WWF, said: “We don’t have to choose between helping people and saving our wildlife. Projects like this show UK aid can be used to help the world’s poorest people and save some of our most threatened species.”

The UK is involved in a public-private partnership to protect chimpanzee habitats in Liberia and tiger habitats in Indonesia, through investments to develop sustainable rubber and cocoa. The project will help to create an estimated 16,000 fair wage jobs and in turn improve the livelihoods of 50,000 people, according to a government statement. 

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ZSL London Zoo is leading the global Sumatran tiger breeding programme, and said in a statement that it “welcomes” the new focus on protecting endangered wildlife. 

“ZSL works closely with local communities,” said Dominic Jermey, director general of ZSL, London Zoo. “We help to empower them in managing their natural resources; and we ensure they have a voice in decision-making to support their economic resilience.”