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Премия рунета 2017

Amur tiger

Amur tiger — national property of Russia

Amur tiger is the largest tiger in the world. And it is the only tiger that mastered a life in snow. No other country in the world has such treasure. Without exaggeration, this is one of the most perfect predators among all others. In contrast even to lions that form prides (families) and live at the expense of collective hunting, the tiger is a pronounced loner. Therefore to hunt its prey it needs the highest skills.

The tiger crowns the top of the food pyramid of a unique ecological system — the Ussuri taiga. Therefore, the state of tiger population is an indicator of the state of the entire Far Eastern nature.

The project to preserve Amur tigers was one of the first serious steps of WWF in Russia. Accounting data for 2004/2005 shows that by joint efforts of state and public environmental organizations, tiger numbers stabilized at a level of more than 450 individuals.

In addition, according to tiger census of 2015, at least 540 Amur tigers live in the Russian Far East.

Back in 1994, it seemed impossible: to defeat tiger poaching, to cut off smuggling channels to China, to mobilize science, to create 10 new protected areas, bringing the total preserved area to 23% of the tiger range in Russia, to preserve habitats in cedar walnut-commercial zones, to work out a technique for resolving conflict situations between a man and a tiger… Together with our partners we did it!

But very soon it turned out that what was done was an easy warm-up in comparison to what was coming. After all, we began to work in conditions when even only a few hunters could boast of having seen a living master of taiga. Today we are working in conditions when even for the townspeople who went to barbecue, meeting a tiger is no longer a rarity.

© Vasily Solkin
© Vasily Solkin
© Vasily Solkin
© Vasily Solkin
Tiger cubs © Oleg Kabalik

The power human’s love for the tiger is directly proportional to the distance to the object of love. The easiest way to love our tiger is by living in the Netherlands or in Germany. It’s pretty comfortable to love a tiger living in Moscow or St. Petersburg. It’s not so difficult to love a tiger, while living in the center of Vladivostok and see it only on the coat of arms of the city. And it’s quite another thing to love a tiger whose footprints you meet every day on your way. And not only footprints…

The attitude of local population towards the master of taiga has changed dramatically not for the better. These are the realities of today. «Too many tigers have appeared!» — grumbling today, those who yesterday was fully for the preservation of this species. We have no right neither to close our eyes nor blame these people. And persuasions that the tiger is actually soft, white and fluffy will not help there.

What should be done?

Provide with housing

Today, the housing issue for tigers is a matter of highest priority. The most elite housing is, of course, the territory of nature reserves and national parks, occupying less than 12% of tigers’ range. For such apartments, the struggle is not for life, but for death. Tigress Troy, who lost her mother and was rehabilitated in the center of «Utes», and then released to freedom, has tried to settle in the Sikhote-Alin Reserve for half a year. But nevertheless she was squeezed out from there by adult relatives to an unguarded territory. The situation with budgetary housing is not better either. Long-term studies of our underlying partner WCS (radio tracking project) have shown that young tigers are forced run about without habitat, stumbling everywhere on lands already occupied by adults. Of the four young, only one could find hunting ground. The rest were lost. Today, in an attempt to find new residential areas tigers moved to the left bank of the Amur, regularly appearing in the Amur region, wandering along the Baikal-Amur Mainline.

If we want to preserve tigers, we must leave for tem at least the currently untouched by us parts of the Far East taiga. Meanwhile, illegal logging continues to be a highlight of Primorsky Krai. It is our fundamental task to help state structures to end this.

Feed

Each of the 500 tigers needs to catch and eat about 50 adult ungulates per year. And if it is impossible to get such quantity of meat on his hunting ground, we get a guaranteed dog hunting criminal. Reserves have no right to intervene in natural processes and increase the number of ungulates. But the owners of hunting grounds both have the right and are interested in this, but simply do not know what exactly needs to be done.

WWF supports hunters willing to spend effort and means to increase their hunting resources by orders of magnitude and are ready to share this resource with the tiger. Having rolled up our sleeves, together we try to find optimal types and methods of feeding, methods of vaccination, which prevents mass diseases of ungulates, and other opportunities to increase the number of roe deer, wild boars and deer in hunting grounds.
Today, the area of such model, friendly to tigers, hunting grounds has already exceeded 2 million hectares of tigers’ habitat, but at least 5 times more is needed.

Eliminate conflicts

In recent years, as soon as winter came, the specialists simply could not physically be at the same time at all points where conflicts between human and tiger has erupted. And there, where they could not make it, the conflict somehow resolved itself. Tigers-marauders have disappeared somewhere. Without a trace. It is not necessary to be Sherlock Holmes to guess: the locals, without waiting for the authorities, got weapons and arranged lynch mobs over the tiger.

If we want to preserve tigers, the state must take full responsibility for the safety of citizens living alongside tigers. This means that a structure must be created that can quickly succeed in EVERY conflict and resolve this conflict with the utmost speed maximum possible professionalism. Unfortunately, public organizations cannot do this. But we are ready and able to support the development, training and equipping of such a structure.