Ministers from several countries gathered Sunday in St. Petersburg at the invitation of Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to begin a five-day meeting with the goal of protecting tigers. Only a little more than 3,000 are estimated to be living outside captivity.
Mr. Putin is so fond of the animals that he was given a cub for his 56th birthday.
But it is perhaps no accident that Mr. Putin has chosen to make an endangered feline the subject of the conference rather than a threatened canine - the wolf, for example, or the wild dog, New York Times reports.
The Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin, and the president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, were behind the four-day event, during which it is hoped that $350m (£220m) will be secured for tiger conservation.
The forum - which is taking place during the international year of biodiversity and the Chinese year of the tiger - will also include the unveiling of an international consortium to combat wildlife crime and pledges to tighten protection by the 13 countries where tigers live.
There are appeals expected from celebrities including the actor Leonardo DiCaprio and the model Naomi Campbell, The Guardian informs.