Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Tigers on verge of extinction in the wild


February 10, 2010 11:49 a.m. EST

(CNN) -- Tigers could become extinct in the wild in less than a generation, the World Wildlife Fund warned Wednesday as it launched a campaign to save them.

The number of tigers in the wild has dwindled to 3,200 -- less than the number held in captivity in the United States alone, the campaigners said.

"There is a real threat of losing this magnificent animal forever in our lifetime," said Sybille Klenzendorf, director of the WWF-US species conservation program. "This would be like losing the stars in the sky.

"Three tiger subspecies have gone extinct, and another, the South China tiger, has not been seen in the wild in 25 years," she told reporters.

"Unless we really crack down on illegal trade and poachers, tigers in the wild have very little chance," said a World Bank official involved in the campaign to save the big cats.

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