In a sad indictment of the way that we humans treat wildlife on this planet, the tiger as a species may well be extinct by 2022, which is the next Chinese 'year of the tiger'.
A century ago it was estimated that there were about 100,000 tigers alive in the world. That figure has plummeted to about 3,200 today.
The tiger habitat is being systematically destroyed by de-forestation and construction. Bit more worrying still is that traditional Chinese medicine values tiger body parts greatly for the making of their potions. This makes the tiger a very valuable trophy for poachers. The last tiger on earth would probably make the poacher that killed it wealthy beyond their wildest dreams.
It is therefore heartening to see that the 13 countries that have tiger populations** getting together in an emergency summit with the goal of doubling the population by 2022. The summit is taking place in St Petersburg in Russia, where the host ex-President now Prime Minister Putin is known to be a great lover of the tiger.
The Global Tiger Recovery Program reckon that they need $350 million for the first 5 years of this 12 year project. With this they hope to maintain habitat and get rid of the poachers, smugglers and associated illegal trade.
The summit, driven by the now two year old Global Tiger Initiative started by the World Bank president Robert Zoellick, wants to get local people engaged in the tiger conservation project.
Let's hope they get the $350 million in funding they need. At a time when we are throwing billions and trillions at banks and countries just to keep a dubious financial system on life support, it seems an extremely small price to pay. Or in future we may only be seeing these magnificent creatures in film and picture archives.
There is a WWF 'adopt a tiger' programme, where for Â£3 a month you can do your little bit to help.
**Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam and Russia.