Russia opens tiger summit to save the big cat

Russia on Sunday called for global efforts to avert extinction of tigers as wildlife activists and officials from 13 countries, including India, opened a summit today in St. Petersburg to discuss ways to double the population of the endangered animal from the existing 3,200. Addressing the “Tiger Summit”, Russia’s environment and natural resources minister Yuri Trutnyev said the population of wild has dropped by 30 times over a century.
“The population of tigers is being exhausted both quantitatively and qualitatively. As many as three out of eight tiger subspecies have become extinct,” Mr Trutnyev said, adding that global efforts were needed to avert extinction of tigers.
Due to decades of poaching and habitat destruction, there are currently only 3,200 tigers living in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), compared with 100,000 a century ago. “Three subspecies have already disappeared and none of the other six are secure,” says a draft declaration that is due to be adopted by the heads of government at the summit.
James Leape, director general of the World Wildlife Fund, told the meeting that if the proper protective measures aren’t taken, tigers may disappear by 2022. He also recognised India’s role in tiger conservation. “Fourty years ago, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi showed what political commitment can accomplish. It was her personal act of courage, her leadership in recognising the importance of tigers to India,” Mr Leape said.
James Adams of World Bank said, “The ongoing decline of tiger is emblematic of the loss of Asia’s forest landscapes. The disappearance of a species at the top of the food chain will endanger all of the species who live below it.” According to the organisers Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was also invited for the summit.
The November 21-24 summit intends to approve a wide-ranging programme with the goal of doubling the world’s tiger population in the wild by 2022. The summit also will be seeking donor commitments to buttress expenditures by each of the country’s governments.

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