Wednesday, 17 November 2010

World leaders must pledge to double tiger numbers in a decade

Leaders from the 13 countries that are still home to wild tigers will meet for a four-day summit in St Petersburg this weekend which is being described as a "last-ditch" effort to save one of the planet's most iconic predators.

Wild tiger numbers have plummeted from more than 100,000 a century ago to just 3,200 today as result of hunting, poaching for traditional medicine and the destruction of vast areas of tiger habitat in India, China and other parts of southeast Asia.

"This is a watershed moment for the tiger," said Mike Baltzer, head of the WWF's Tiger Alive Initiative, "the tiger really is now at a critical point because despite the actions of conservation groups and governments, world conservation efforts have not been intensive enough to be effective." Breeding populations of tigers are now confined to 42 key sites in Asia, according to a recent study by the Wildlife Conservation Society, which argued that saving the tiger must focus on saving the six per cent of historical habitat were tigers still roam.

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