Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, China's premier Wen Jiabao and other world leaders will hold an unprecedented summit this week in a last ditch effort to save the tiger from extinction, Reuters reports.
Just 3,200 tigers now roam free, down from 100,000 a century ago, and those that remain face a losing battle with poachers who supply traders in India and China with tiger parts for traditional medicines and purported aphrodisiacs.
The leaders are expected to endorse an initiative by the World Bank and wildlife charity WWF aimed at doubling the tiger population by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger under the Chinese calendar.
"For the first time we have world leaders coming together focused on saving a single species," Jim Leap, international director general of the WWF told reporters on Thursday.
Putin, who is hosting the "tiger summit" with officials from 13 tiger range nations, will try to thrash out a deal aimed at turning the tables on poachers. China's Wen and the prime ministers of Bangladesh and Laos are among those expected.
[PHOTO: Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin shows a tiger cub to journalists in 2008. Reuters file photo.]