The stars came out in force to support wildlife artist and conservationist, David Shepherd CBE , as he took his TigerTime Campaign to the heart of Westminster this week.
Ricky Gervais, Joanna Lumley, Abi Titmuss and Robert Lindsay were among guests calling for a ban on the illegal trade in tiger parts – one of the key factors driving the last 3,200 wild tigers to the edge of extinction.
“When I was born there were over 100,000 wild tigers in the world, today there are fewer than 3,200,” says David Shepherd, who launched TigerTime on his 80th birthday in 2011. “Habitat destruction and poaching are decimating a species that’s value is far greater than the £10 ,000 price tag on its head.”
Addressing the room of Lords, Ladies, heads of industry and celebrities, actress Joanna Lumley gave an impassioned plea to save the tiger: "What I love about David Shepherd is that he has always taken risks and stepped forward when things are dangerous or frightening. How exciting to do something that is a bit dangerous and a bit different; after all what is money for except spending? Let us in this room on this night, at this time, make the commitment to catch a piece of fire as it passes; it may burn our hands, but let’s do it! Because life is speeding by and the clock is ticking for the tiger. If we don’t do something, the tiger will be lost.
“With David Shepherd at the front of this and Peter Carroll behind it I think we can make this work. But, we here in this room, have to be as brave as lions – or should I say as brave as tigers.”
Animal lover and comedian, Ricky Gervais, one of the star supporters who has helped enlist over 102,000 signatories to the bantigertrade.com petition for the campaign through his regular twitter posts, added: “This has been such a moving and inspirational evening for such a worthy cause.”
Peers of the realm, heads of business and industry and politicians including deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, attended the event aimed at raising awareness and funds for the campaign that supports on-going tiger conservation projects in India, Thailand and the Russian Far East, education and outreach programmes and undercover investigations into the illegal trade and consumer markets.
A huge boost was the offer from Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg to provide access to the right people in government to help the TigerTime team continue discussions about ending the illegal trade in tiger parts.
“There are many charities trying to save the tiger in the wild but none that have managed to engage the world community through social media like TigerTime has,” said David Shepherd. “This is just the beginning; we need more and more support. Time is running out. We have to act fast; we have to act today if we are to save the tiger in the wild. Extinction is forever.”
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