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Mini-reserves for tigers appeared in hunting leases of the Russian Far East

20 october 2020
A pilot project completed in Primorye to reconfigure and enlarge game protection zones in central Sikhote-Alin mountain range which is important for the Amur tiger. WWF regards these zones not less effective than the existing protected areas.

Game resources protection zones (GRPZ) are the plots of different square shapes that according to the lease regulation should be delineated by game users. These plots are meant to create favorable conditions for habitation and breeding of game animals. In such “mini-reserves” the area of which can vary from 5% and up the hunting leases introduce restrictions in game resources use. These limitations can be partial or absolute. 

The total area of the Amur tiger habitats in the Russian Far East is around 180 000 square kilometers out of which less than 20% are covered by protected areas of different levels while the rest 80% are leased by users of different nature resources including game species. 

«In Primorsky, Khabarovsky, and Evreiskaya Provinces the total area of GRPZ can be as high as 10 000-12 000 square kilometers which is proportional to the area of the Bikin National Park, the biggest one. This area can be home for 50-60 tigers and a thousand of ungulates, a tiger potential prey, notes Pavel Fomenko, senior coordinator of rare species conservation unit at WWF Russia’s Amur branch.

The analysis of these zones in tiger habitats conducted by WWF revealed that not always these zones are delineated in the plots optimal for protection of game or rare species. Moreover, sometimes GRPZ are chosen contrary to reason. WWF experts have proposed new principles for GRPZ delineation and creation of a network which became part of the official Primorsky Province Inter-Lease Hunting Management Plan. According to the document, the zones of adjacent hunting leases should be combined into groups, or serve as corridors, or be adjacent to the existing protected areas.  

«Reconfiguration and shifting GRPZs in three model hunting clubs in Central Sikhote-Alin - Sinegorye, Yakovlevsky and Fauna - is one of the joint results of the alliance to enlarge and save the isolated group of 12 tigers. Ten years ago, before the partnership with WWF, we registered only single entries. Thanks to the efforts of game users, Wildlife Management Department and with the support of WWF, the number of ungulates has also increased”, comments Sergei Umanets, head of “Fauna” hunting club.

Among next planned joint activities of WWF and game users to manage natural resources use sustainably is the formation of an inter-lease group of public inspectors to patrol the leased areas. 

Amur tiger conservation efforts in the Russian Far East are supported by WWF and the Amur Tiger Center. 

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