Entries in TIgers (2)


Putin Wants to Save the Last 3,200 Tigers from Extinction

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- What has been hailed as the most significant meeting ever to discuss the fate of a single non-human species is under way in the Russian city of St. Petersburg. Conservationists and government officials from the 13 countries where tigers roam have gathered for a four-day "tiger summit" to commit to a plan for fighting the big cats' extinction, led by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Conservationists say because of poaching and deforestation, only 3,200 tigers remain in the wild, less than the number in captivity in Texas. The tiger population is at an all-time low, down from around 100,000 a century ago. Of the remaining tigers, only 1,000 are breeding females, the key to the species' survival.

Tiger experts say that unless drastic measures are taken, tigers could soon be extinct. At the end of the summit, participants are expected to commit to doubling the tiger population by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger after 2010 in the Chinese zodiac.

To do that, the countries and conservation groups will commit an estimated $330 million, the bulk of which will come from the World Bank -- which has spearheaded the global tiger initiative -- and the 13 "tiger range" countries, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Despite not having wild tigers of its own, the United States has contributed millions to the preservation cause. There had been hopes that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would attend the forum (the undersecretary of state is representing the United States at the summit).

Russia and its tiger-loving prime minister have been applauded for their efforts to raise awareness and reverse the tigers' decline. Putin was given a tiger cub for his birthday in 2008, a month after he famously shot a Siberian tiger with a tranquillizer dart as part of a collaring program.

"The complexity in saving the tiger is not great, but the scale of the challenge is," said Wildlife Conservation's Society's Walston. "If we do the basics right, if we support the men and women on the ground to prevent poaching of tigers, then we're going to allow tigers to do what they do naturally, which is to breed and recover."

Putin and the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will address the conference Tuesday.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 


World Wildlife Fund Works to Double Number of Wild Tigers

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The World Wildlife Fund is leading an urgent global campaign to try to double the number of tigers living in the wild.  According to the organization, tigers in the wild could all be gone in a dozen or so years.

In the last century, the number of wild tigers throughout Asia has gone down from 100,000 to 3,200.  Illegal hunting, shrinking habitats and the trade of tiger parts used in Oriental medicine have contributed to this decline.

“Demand for tiger parts and products is one of the leading threats to the continued survival of the species in the wild," says Leigh Henry, WWF senior policy officer for Species Conservation.  "A nationwide database is essential to ensure that captive cats don’t end up in traditional folk medicine, tiger wine, or as somebody’s hearth rug or wall hanging,” Henry adds.

In November, a top level meeting is planned in Russia to discuss strategy.  Key conservation bodies, along with representatives from a dozen or so countries where wild tigers can still be found, are expected to attend.  Russian Prime Minister Putin is expected to play a leading role.

The goal of the meeting is to increase the number of tigers in the wild two-fold by 2022.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio