Call to double tiger population

Conservationists have called for efforts to double numbers of tigers over the next 12 years, as they warned that without global action the endangered species could vanish forever.

WWF said there were as few as 3,200 tigers in the wild, the lowest number since records began, with the animal under threat from hunting and a loss of its habitat.

But the charity believes the fortunes of one of the world's top predators can be reversed with concerted global action.

Efforts to preserve the tiger and its habitats will also benefit hundreds of other species, the conservationists said.

In the Chinese Year of the Tiger, WWF is calling on governments in countries where the big cats are found to fulfil their commitment to double tiger numbers by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger.

The conservation charity has also launched a petition, which it wants people in the UK to sign, to show that the public does not want to live in a world without tigers.

WWF made the call ahead of a meeting of governments from 13 countries that are home to wild tigers - including China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Russia and Thailand - in Bali next week.

The meeting, which WWF hopes will be a key step towards fulfilling the pledge to double tiger numbers, is the third in less than a year and comes ahead of the world's first global summit on tigers in St Petersburg in September.

Diane Walkington, head of species at WWF-UK, said: "Without joined-up, global action right now, we are in serious danger of losing the species forever in many parts of Asia.

"This year offers an unprecedented opportunity to put in place a co-ordinated, multi-state plan to save the tiger. There has never before been this level of momentum for action on tigers and governments must take advantage of it."