October 22, 2010

Tigers Could Become Extinct Within 12 Years: WWF

Nature conservation body WWF said on Thursday that tigers could become extinct within 12 years, but a top level meeting in Russia next month could help reverse the decline.

"The worse scenario is that the tiger could be gone when the next year of the tiger comes along, in 12 years," Ola Jennersten, head of the international nature conservation program at WWF Sweden, told the AFP news agency.

The organization is leading a global campaign to attempt to double the number of tigers by 2022, when the Chinese year of the tiger comes around.

WWF says that illegal hunting, a shrinking habitat and the trade of tiger parts used in oriental medicine have all shrunk the number of the big cats around the world just 3,200 tigers today.

"Despite the gloomy figures, the situation is more hopeful than ever," Jennersten said, praising a political initiative of 13 'tiger states' and different bodies set to meet in Russia on November 21-24 in a bid to halt possible extinction of the species.

"This will be achieved through increased political involvement, focus on the tiger landscapes that have the greatest chance of long term retention of the tiger, and increased control of tiger trade," he said.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is expected to attend the summit in Saint Petersburg.  He is known for his love for nature because of acts like publicly kissing animals and engaging in a string of stunts involving wildlife including tigers.

WWF said about 1,800 tigers live in India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, 450 live in Sumatra, 400 in Malaysia, 350 are spread throughout southeast Asia and around 450 live in the wild in Russia.


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