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Last Updated: Tuesday December 23 2008 12:58 GMT

Big idea to help wild tigers

A Siberian tiger

Big plans have been announced to double the number of tigers living in the wild in Malaysia over the next 12 years.

Conservation groups and the Malaysian government are setting themselves a big target by trying to boost tiger numbers from 500 to around 1,000 by 2020.

The number of tigers in the country has fallen a lot in recent years because people keep hunting them illegally.

But experts say new security will help stop the hunters, and restoring jungle corridors will give tigers more room.

A lion at Hanover zoo in Germany
That means the animals can have more freedom and wander over larger areas.

This is the first time the Malaysian government has made such a big effort to reverse the drop in tiger numbers instead of just slowing it down.

Body parts

Tigers in Malaysia have been protected by wildlife laws since the early 1970s, but they're still hunted because of the demand for their meat and body parts, which are sometimes used in Chinese medicine.

Officials reckon that's one of the main reasons, along with destruction of the jungle where they live, that the number of wild tigers has dropped from 3,000 to just 500 over the past 50 years.