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WWF-Russia: Successful experience in tiger conservation in Russia will help restore tigers in Kazakhstan

02 february 2022
On February 1, on the first day of the Year of the Tiger according to the Lunar calendar, TASS information agency of Russia hosted a press conference dedicated to the conservation of this rare animal and the prospects for international cooperation.
The Year of the Tiger has come not only according to the Chinese calendar, but also according to the environmental calendar - in 2022, special attention will be given to this species. The International Tiger Forum to be held in Vladivostok in September will become the Year of the Tiger main event. Representatives of tiger range countries will talk about the successes achieved and Russia has a lot to be proud of.
Director of the Department of State Policy and Regulation in the PAs Development of Specially at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation, Irina Makanova, reported about the country's success in tiger conservation and what has been achieved by the joint efforts of the government, scientists and public organizations, “Russia is one of the leaders among 13 tiger range countries in the conservation and restoration of this animal. The population of the Amur tiger is growing steadily. The last tiger monitoring, which took place in 2019, already showed 580 individuals. A new tiger census in its entire home range has started now and we expect this number to be higher”.
Irina Makanova also spoke about plans for the year and, in particular, about the fact that the Ministry of Natural Resources has begun designing the Pompeevsky National Park in Evreiskaya province. This area is critical for tiger recovery. The announcement of its establishment is planned to be voiced at the International Tiger Forum.
According to Dmitry Gorshkov, director of WWF-Russia, after the creation of the Pompeevsky NP, the tiger econet in Russia will be almost completed. The next step will be the creation of buffer zones around the existing protected areas.
WWF has been engaged in tiger conservation in Russia throughout the history of the Fund's existence, and over 28 years WWF has invested over 35 million euros in this work. This ambitious environmental project in the recent history of Russia has involved many participants.
Dmitry Gorshkov added, “Successful results were achieved thanks to the efforts of the government, represented by the Ministry of Natural Resources and regional authorities, public organizations such as WWF Russia and the "Amur Tiger Center", scientists and other participants. The experience that we have accumulated can be shared. After almost 30 years of successful work in the Russian Far East, we can say with confidence that we know how to save tigers, we know all the hidden dangers and effective methods, and ready to use these skills in a tiger restoration project in Central Asia”.
"It was believed that the Caspian subspecies of the tiger was completely lost and only skins and stuffed animals remained in some museums. Thanks to genetic studies of these skins it became known that the division into subspecies was conditional and mainly related to external features, said Aliya Shalabekova, Vice Minister of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan. “The development of the program is carried out with the help of WWF which has been actively working with environmental organizations and agencies of Kazakhstan on nature conservation for over 25 years. It was based on the experience of the Tiger Conservation Fund around the world and, in particular, in Russia, that Kazakhstan decided to return the tiger to the Republic."
According to Grigory Mazmanyants, head of WWF Russia Central Asian program, a mathematical model developed during the tiger restoration program in Kazakhstan proved the that up to 120 tigers can live in this area, but they plan to start the program with three animals. The program is designed for 35 years; and it is planned the tiger group to reach 35 individuals. This number makes the population stable and able to exist without human help.
"The work on the program would have been impossible without the expertise of our colleagues from the Russian Far East," stressed Grigory Mazmanyants.
It was they who helped with the assessment of the territory, gave recommendations for the construction of a rehabilitation center and enclosures for temporary keeping of tigers that are expected to arrive from the Far East. Russian specialists also trained the local colleagues to immobilize deers, which are transported to the future tiger range to increase the number of its prey. Russia also has the experience of reintroduction, when tigers were transported to Evreiskaya and Amurskaya Provinces, and this experience is invaluable for the Kazakhstan project.
The reserve will be ready to receive the first tigers in 2025. "I hope that by next Year of the Tiger we will be discussing the number of tigers in Kazakhstan and the number of kittens born on this earth," added Grigory Mazmanyants.
"Tiger restoration is not just the conservation of the animal itself. The tiger makes it possible to make the ecosystem the same as it was before serious anthropogenic interference, contributes to the revival of this territory. This makes it possible to return not only the tiger, but also other animal and plant species and to preserve entire ecosystems in the name of a tiger”, added Dmitry Gorshkov. “Vladivostok is hosting the second Tiger Forum in September, 2022. It will be dedicated not only to the Amur tiger, but to all tiger subspecies of the planet. It is important that representatives of the States develop common approaches to the tiger conservation, and set common goals and objectives. And then each country will develop national programs. We hope that our successful Russian experience will help our partners in Kazakhstan to preserve their tigers as well."