CHANGCHUN, April 20, Xinhua -- The protection zone for Siberian tigers in northeast China's Jilin Province will be expanded, according to an ecological protection plan by the local government.

According to the plan, nine new protection zones covering an area of 390,000 hectares will be built in the province. By 2020, an 800,000-hectare habitat for tigers and leopards will be created, with capacity for more than 30 fertile tigers and over 50 fertile leopards.

By 2025, the range of the tigers and leopards is expected to reach 2 million hectares.

The regional plan is in line with the Chinese government's 13th Five-Year Plan, which vows to strengthen management of the country's nature reserves to improve the habitats of protected animals such as pandas, tigers and leopards.

Siberian tigers almost went extinct in China in the 1950s. But the animal has been spotted in recent years thanks to years of efforts to improve the environment.

According to research jointly conducted by experts from China, Russia and the United States, only six to nine Siberian tigers were spotted in Jilin in 1998. But the number has increased to about 27 in 2015, according to a joint survey by Beijing Normal University and the local forestry department.