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Summit calls for doubling tiger population

Without measures to protect habitats and stop poaching, wild tigers could disappear by 2022, conservation groups said. Without measures to protect habitats and stop poaching, wild tigers could disappear by 2022, conservation groups said. (Deshakalyan Chowdhury/ AFP/ Getty Images/ File 2008)
Associated Press / November 22, 2010

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ST. PETERSBURG — Wild tigers could become extinct in 12 years if countries where they still roam fail to take quick action to protect their habitats and step up the fight against poaching, global wildlife officials said at a summit convened to discuss the animals yesterday.

The World Wildlife Fund and other groups said that only about 3,200 tigers remain in the wild, a dramatic plunge from an estimated 100,000 a century ago.

James Leape, director general of the World Wildlife Fund, told the meeting in St. Petersburg that if the protective measures aren’t taken, tigers may disappear by 2022.

Their habitat is being destroyed by forest cutting and construction, and they are a valuable trophy for poachers who want skins and body parts prized in Chinese traditional medicine.

The summit approved a wide-ranging program with the goal of doubling the world’s tiger population in the wild by 2022, backed by governments of the 13 countries with tiger populations: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The program aims to protect tiger habitats; eradicate poaching, smuggling, and illegal trade of tigers and their parts; and create incentives for local communities to engage them in helping protect the big cats.