Delegations from 13 countries are opening a meeting in the Russian city of St. Petersburg aimed at coordinating their efforts to revive the world's tiger population, which some experts believe could be heading toward extinction.
The summit is being hosted by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who has on numerous occasions urged the protection of tigers.
The main goal of the meeting is to agree an action-plan aimed at doubling the world population of tigers living in the wild within the next 12 years -- by 2022, the next Year Of The Tiger.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, only about 3,200 tigers currently live in the wild -- down from an estimated 100,000 of the big cats a century ago -- due to the destruction of forest habitats and poachers who sell tiger skins and other body parts on illegal markets.
Experts say India and China are key players in the drive to save tigers.
India is where half the world's tigers live, while China is the biggest consumer of products made from tigers.
Poaching and illegal trafficking in tiger products are serious problems in both China and India, according to experts.
Reports say Russia, with a population of about 500 tigers, is the only country to have seen its tiger population rise in recent years.
In addition to Russia, China, and India, the St. Petersburg meeting will be attended by representatives of 10 other nations that still have tiger populations -- Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam.
compiled from agency reports