ST. PETERSBURG — Officials from the 13 countries where tigers live in the wild signed a declaration yesterday aimed at saving the iconic big cats from extinction.
The new accord stipulates that the nations will strive to double the tiger population by 2022 and crack down on poaching and illicit trade in tiger pelts and body parts.
Tigers once roamed most of Eurasia from the Tigris River to Siberia and Indonesia. But in the past century, the number of countries that are home to tigers has dropped to 13 from 25, while three of the nine tiger subspecies have become extinct. Specialists say there are now only about 3,200 tigers left in the wild.
The nations, most of which are in Southeast Asia, agreed to preserve and enhance tigers’ habitats and involve local communities in their efforts.
“The goal is difficult, but achievable,’’ Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told the participants of the “Tiger Summit’’ in St. Petersburg.
Russia’s Far East is home to Siberian tigers, the largest tiger subspecies. Putin has bolstered his image by posing with a cuddly cub and placing a tracking collar on a full-grown female.
The number of tigers worldwide has plunged some 95 percent over the past century. The Global Tiger Recovery Program estimates that the 13 countries will need about $350 million in outside funding in the first five years of the 12-year plan.
Many of the countries with tigers, such as Laos, Bangladesh, and Nepal, are impoverished, and saving tigers may depend on sizable donations from the West. The nations will seek donor commitments to help finance conservation measures, the agreement said.