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 experts told a "tiger summit" yesterday.
The World Wide Fund For Nature and other experts say 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 WWF, told the meeting in St Petersburg that if the proper protective measures were not taken, tigers could disappear by 2022, the next lunar Year of the Tiger.
Their habitat is being destroyed by deforestation and construction, and they are a valuable trophy for poachers.
The summit approved a wide-ranging programme aimed at doubling the wild tiger population by 2022, backed by the 13 countries that still have tiger populations.