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Tigers in the wild may be extinct in 12 years

By Ken Wightman     Oct 22, 2010 in Environment
Stockholm - The WWF estimates there are 5000 tigers in American backyards, truck stops, urban apartments and private breeding facilities. This is more than the 3200 wild tigers in the wild. Sadly, the "King of the Jungle" may be extinct in as little as 12 years.
World Wildlife spokesman Marie von Zeipel told AP the wild tiger population has shrunk 97 percent in the past century. "If nothing drastic happens the (population) curve is heading straight for disaster."
In just the past 70 years, three tiger subspecies - the Bali, Javan, and Caspian - have become extinct. The remaining six subspecies - Amur, Bengal, Indochinese, Malayan, South China, and Sumatran - all live only in Asia, and all are threatened by rampant, systematic poaching to meet the demand for tiger body parts used in eastern medicine.
Tigers are also threatened by illegal trophy hunting and habitat destruction. Tigers now occupy only 7 percent of their former range which once stretched all the way from Turkey to the northern and eastern reaches of Russia and extended south into India and the Indonesian islands of Bali, Java and Sumatra.
Von Zeipel's comments were made Friday after the wildlife organization hosted a seminar in Stockholm examining the pressures driving wild tigers to the brink of extinction.
In November a Tiger Summit is planned for St. Petersburg, Russia, to discuss the plight of wild tigers and formulate a range-wide recovery plan.
Southeastern Russia and northern China are home to the last remaining wild Amur tigers. Less than 500 of these large cats remain roaming free. An auction of logging rights opening a number of zones to intermediate logging, including the Middle Ussuri wildlife reserve, are placing Russia's tiger population at increased risk. Logging roads make access to the interior of the reserve easier, promoting poaching. The habitat destruction threatens key breeding, feeding and overwintering habitat.
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