A fascination with big cats and embedded passion for conservation has led Brenau University student Esther Sindler to join the global push to protect the endangered tiger species.
To do this, she’s leading the new Brenau chapter of Tigers for Tigers, a national coalition of college students working together to protect the large cat. According to the national coalition’s website, around 3,000 tigers exist in the world today.
The concept for the group originally came from environmental organizations and other agencies working to stop poaching, but the adults found they weren’t able to get the response they wanted.
“Even though they’ve tried in Congress to get movements to work toward saving the tigers, they really hadn’t made very much leeway,” Sindler said. “They were hoping, if it was like a large group of students working toward a common goal, that Congress would listen more.”
And while politicians may be deadlocked now in an impasse over the budget, this past summer President Barack Obama pledged $10 million for a Tanzanian wildlife reserve.
This initial success has spurred the Tigers for Tigers movement, which joins students from colleges with tiger mascots across the country. After attending the group’s summit earlier in the year, Sindler came back inspired.
“I was really moved to try and establish (a club) here at Brenau,” she said.
Along with her biology professor, Jessi Shrout, Sindler announced the formation of the group at the recent naming ceremony of the tiger statue at Green and Academy streets.
“I know fundraising is a big part of the organization,” Shrout said. “We want to do whatever we can to support tiger conservation worldwide. If that means doing smaller fundraising events locally at Brenau, and then contributing to the larger coalition, we would love to do that.”
Both Sindler and Shrout said there has been a lot of interest in the past week.
“I was watching in one of my classes how motivated all the students were for their own learning and their own goals,” Sindler said. “I couldn’t help but sit back and just wish that these students could put this motivation toward conservation.”
Right now, the national group is focused on raising awareness as well as funds to support global initiatives. Being in the early stages, a specific focus for the Brenau chapter has not been established, but Sindler is positive she will be able to influence real change in protecting the world’s tiger population.
“I haven’t quite decided for sure what this is going to lead to,” she said. “I just hope that it leads to something good.”