WWF issues appeal as tiger summit starts

Sunday, November 21, 2010

MOSCOW - An international conference on saving the world’s tigers from extinction got underway in St. Petersburg Sunday.

Kicking off the four-day conference, animal protection group World Wildlife Fund (WWF) warned that the planet’s last free-roaming tigers faced extinction by 2022, the next Chinese Year of the Tiger after this year.

WWF general director James Leape said that only around 3,200 tigers are still roaming freedom in 13 countries.

By WWF accounts, the St. Petersburg meeting is the first one in which government leaders will be debating the fate of a single animal species.

Among others, Russian Premier Vladimir Putin, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were due to take part in the conference.

Tigers are coveted as trophies by hunters and for making questionable medications in some countries, Leape noted.

What is needed is to persuade those people who inhabit regions together with tigers to join the cause of protecting the animals, he said.

The St. Petersburg conference is due to discuss proposals for protecting the world’s largest predatory cats, with the aim of doubling the tigers’ worldwide numbers.

On the agenda for Tuesday is a vote proposing a programme of at least $350 million to rescue the world’s tigers.

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