FILE- Two South China tiger cubs of the Gonggong breed, Hope, left, and Cathay, right, are seen in the zoo at Pretoria, South Africa, in this photo dated Sept. 2, 2003. Environmental experts who are meeting in Stockholm, Sweden, Friday Oct. 22, 2010, have warned that the world's tiger population in the wild, could be extinct within 12-years because of illegal trophy hunting, deteriorating habitats and the use of tiger parts in eastern medicine, according to World Wildlife spokeswoman Marie von Zeipel.
FILE- A caged South China tiger seen behind bars in Johannesburg in this file photo dated Tuesday, April 24, 2007.
by The Associated Press
STOCKHOLM October 22, 2010, 01:11 pm ET
The world's tiger population could soon be extinct because of poaching, shrinking habitats and the use of tiger parts in Eastern medicine, environmental experts warned Friday.
World Wildlife spokeswoman Marie von Zeipel said the world's biggest wild cat is one of the most threatened species and could face extinction within 12 years. The organization estimates there are only 3,200 tigers in the wild — with von Zeipel noting that the wild tiger population has shrunk 97 percent in 100 years.
"If nothing drastic happens, the (population) curve is heading straight for disaster," she said.
Her comments came after the wildlife organization hosted a seminar in Stockholm about the plight of wild tigers.
WWF is currently running a campaign to double the wild tiger population by 2022. It is urging nations to help protect tigers' habitats and to prevent poaching of tigers and their prey.
Russia, which has its own Amur tiger population, is holding a global tiger summit next month. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will host the four-day meeting in the city of St. Petersburg, attended by wildlife experts and delegates from the 13 countries where tigers are still found in the wild.