(Reuters) - With just 3,200 left in the wild, tigers could become extinct within a decade unless countries step up efforts to halt poaching and deforestation, wildlife experts told a “tiger summit” in Russia this week.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao join world leaders on Tuesday to endorse a pledge to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022.
Here are some facts about the tiger:
* The four-day “tiger summit” is the highest ever political meeting to discuss the fate of a single species.
* Tigers were once common in at least 25 countries. Today they survive in dwindling numbers, stretched thin across just 13 nations: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.
* Tigers now occupy barely 7 percent of their historic range, according to conservation organization WWF.
* Three of nine tiger subspecies are extinct: the Bali tiger in the 1940s, the Caspian tiger in the 1970s and the Java tiger in the 1980s. The south China tiger, which has not been seen in the wild for over 40 years, is feared extinct.
* The five other tiger subspecies are endangered. They are the Siberian Amur Tiger (450-500 in number), Bengal Tiger (1,700-2,000), Indochinese Tiger (350-700), the Sumatran Tiger (400) and the Malayan Tiger (200-500).
* 97 percent of the tiger population has vanished in the last 100 years — as few as 3,200 wild tigers remain, down from 100,000 a century ago.
* Just 1,000 breeding females remain in the wild.
* Despite global bans, poaching is the biggest threat to the tigers’ survival. More than 1,000 tigers have been killed over the last decade for illegal trade, an average of 104 to 119 tigers a year, wildlife trade monitor Traffic says, although it views this as only a fraction of the trade.
* India is the center of the illegal trade, followed by China, where demand is rampant for tiger parts used in traditional medicines and as so-called aphrodisiacs.
(Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Janet Lawrence)