Tiger conservation discussed in Bali, Indonesia

Sumatran tiger, London Zoo, 2005 Conservationists say tiger numbers ned to double to save the species

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Officials from 13 countries are meeting in Bali, Indonesia, to agree on ways to try to double the number of tigers in the world.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) conservation group has warned that a lack of global action could kill off the endangered species.

Hunting and a loss of habitat had cut numbers to about 3,200 tigers - the lowest ever.

The Bali Tiger Forum is a precursor to a planned global summit in December.

There is a particular focus on China, where a huge demand for tiger parts fopr consumption has fuelled a drop in numbers.

Tiger's year

Conservationists are concerned about the proliferation of Chinese tiger farms, where 5,000 tigers are kept in captivity - they say this spurs the trade in tiger parts, and demand for illegally caught wild tigers.

Representatives from China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Russia and Thailand

Dr Bivash Pandav, landscape co-ordinator for the WWF tiger network initiative in Nepal, said political action was needed to enforce laws against poaching, secure habitats, and help communities who come into contact with tigers.

"This year offers an unprecedented opportunity to put in place a co-ordinated, multi-state plan to save the tiger," said Diane Walkington, head of species at WWF-UK.

"There has never before been this level of momentum for action on tigers and governments must take advantage of it.

"If we lose the tiger, not only do we lose one of the world's top predators, we will lose so much more.

"By safeguarding their habitats , we will protect hundreds of other species in the process," she said.

The BBC's Indonesia correspondent, Karishma Vaswani, says Indonesia, the host nation, is home to around 400 Sumatran tigers.

It has come up with a proposal to boost its tiger population whereby rich Indonesia could adopt a pair of tigers for $100,000 (£66,360).

They hope to discourage illegal poaching by legalising tiger ownership but critics say the plan is unrealistic and that the focus shoud be on protecting tigers in their natural habitat.

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