| (Source:China Daily)
By Jin Zhu and Cang Wei
BEIJING, Dec.5 (Xinhuanet) -- The last remaining Siberian tigers living wild in Northeast China could disappear within decades, as poaching and illegal logging continue to take their toll, experts have warned.
Research by Chinese authorities and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has discovered that the animal is already one of the planet's most endangered species.
In just the last 70 years, the estimated population of Siberian tigers, or Amur tigers, has plummeted from as many as 300 to just 18 to 22.
"If the government fails to take effective measures, it's foreseeable that these creatures could disappear from China within 10 to 20 years," said Zhu Chunquan, conservation director of biodiversity and operations at the WWF's Beijing office.
"The poaching of wild animals, which is the tigers' main food source, is the greatest threat to their survival," he said, adding that extensive logging in the mountainous provinces of Heilongjiang and Jilin has also massively reduced their natural habitats.
Since 1996, when hunting for wildlife was banned in both provinces, authorities have noted a sharp rise in poaching with iron-wire snares.