Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Tuesday agreed with other Asian nations to try to double the world's wild tiger population by 2022 and save it from extinction.
Just 3,200 tigers now live in the wild, 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.
Putin, whose country is one of 13 that are home to the world's last wild tigers, hosted a "tiger summit" with Wen and representatives from other Asian countries, the highest level meeting ever held to try to save a single species.
"It is very important to save this wonderful, imperial creature -- the tiger -- for future generations," Putin said, adding its situation worldwide was approaching "catastrophe."
His spokesman Dmitry Peskov said a program to double the number of free-roaming tigers by 2022 was approved on Tuesday. Initially, $350 million will be spent over the next five years, according to coordinators the World Bank and conservation organization WWF.