As the University of Missouri Tigers prepare to square off against the Auburn Tigers, the schools are collaborating to show that their Tiger pride extends beyond the field. The two schools, along with Clemson University and Louisiana State University, have joined together to form the U.S. Tiger University Consortium. Before the game, MU Provost Garnett Stokes and Auburn Provost Timothy Boosinger will discuss collaboration efforts with faculty committed to tiger conservation. They also will spend time with Truman and Aubie, the respective mascots for the universities.
“Saturday is going to be an exciting day, not just for football, but to come together with the common goal of saving tigers,” said Carolyn Henry, interim dean of the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. “Being involved in the consortium will allow Mizzou students and faculty to contribute significantly and save this amazing species.”
The wild tiger population has been dwindling due to habitat loss and poaching. The Global Tiger Forum estimates that only 3,900 tigers are left in the wild. The consortium has a goal of doubling that number by 2022. Plans to achieve this goal include applying technology to monitor wild tiger populations and funding research. Each university also has planned strategic communications to raise awareness of the worldwide problem.
“Mizzou is the perfect university to play a role in tiger conservation,” said Shibu Jose, director of the MU School of Natural Resources. “Researchers from multiple areas of expertise — wildlife, veterinary medicine, ecology and sociology —can contribute to the effort.”
Mizzou is where the student-led effort to protect wild tigers started. In 1999, Mizzou students formed the nation’s first tiger mascot conservation program, “Mizzou Tigers for Tigers,” which eventually led to a national coalition in 2007 recognized by the World Wildlife Fund. The chapter’s current president, Shannon McKinley, is organizing multiple fundraising events to support tiger habitats and engage more Mizzou students in the effort.
We can expect to see the number of tigers on campus or at least tiger mascots to double this coming Saturday. The Mizzou Tigers will be playing the final of four straight home games against the Auburn Tigers on Sept. 23.
Published by Mizzou News, 329 Jesse Hall, Columbia, MO 65211