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Conference Told Tigers Could Be Extinct In 12 Years

A pair of white Tigers walk in the Zoological Gardens in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Experts have told a conference in St. Petersburg that wild tigers could become extinct in 12 years unless urgent measures are taken to protect them.

Decades of poaching and destruction of habitats have slashed the number of wild tigers from 100,000 a century ago to only about 3,200.

James Leape, the director-general of the World Wildlife Fund, told the conference that if the proper protective measures were not taken, tigers might disappear by 2022, the next Chinese calendar year of the tiger.

The World Bank estimates that preservation efforts over the next five years will take at least $350 million.

The conference in St. Petersburg, which runs through November 24, is being attended by representatives of the 13 countries that still have tiger populations -- Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

compiled from agency reports