Tigers could be extinct within 12 years

Tigers could become extinct within 12 years but a top level meeting in Russia next month could help reverse the decline, nature conservation body WWF said on Thursday.

"The worse scenario is that the tiger could be gone when the next year of the tiger comes along, in 12 years," said Ola Jennersten, head of the international nature conservation programme at WWF Sweden.

The organisation is leading a global campaign to attempt to double the number of tigers by 2022, when the next Chinese calendar year of the tiger comes around.

WWF said that in the last century, illegal hunting, a shrinking habitat and the trade of tiger parts used in oriental medicine had sent the number of the big cats worldwide plunging 97 percent to around just 3,200 tigers today.