Fires on the Land of Leopard: some set a fire and remain unpunished, others heroically fight it.
The proof of this fact is the new forest fire season, which turned out to be extremely hot this year in the south-western Primorye. In the beginning of February already, the first fire sites were registered here, in the leopard habitat. 695 hectares of “Kedrovaya Pad” nature reserve has been burned away already. More than 10 000 hectares of “Leopardovy” wildlife refuge suffered from fires.
This April, there is a fire fighting almost every day on the territory of “Leopardovy” refuge. One of the largest fires covering about 4 000 hectares in the area of Bamburovsky polygon was liquidated a week ago by the “South” fire fighting brigade headed by Eugene Stoma. Last weekend, the group “North” leaded by Anatoly Belov in cooperation with the forest rangers of “Primles” and the inspectors of “Zapovednik” brigade stopped three fire spots and did not let it extend deep into the forest in the Barabashevka riverbed. These fires were caused by careless tourists. To fight one of these fires the rangers were alerted at midnight. Sergey Khokhryakov, the director of “Kedrovaya Pad” nature reserve was the one who rose the alarm on time. Three times in a raw the unknown people tried to set a fire in the area of an open cut of Malyutinka river: it is supposed, that the territory was intentionally set on fire for future cannabis plantations. The northern borders of “Leopardovy” refuge were also on fire.
«There is a bit more than 20 staff rangers for the territory of 188 hectares of the protected area. People are working themselves out, - comments Vladimir Timonin, the “Kedrovaya Pad' reserve and “Leopardovy” refuge deputy chief on protection. - The support of WWF and “Phoenix” Fund helps a lot in this situation, but anyway it is obvious that the number of rangers is not enough, they should be about 70-90 people.
«The main problem is that the lands adjacent to the protected area have no real owner. None is fighting fires there except for volunteers. And it is from these areas the fire extends further into the protected area.
WWF Russia with the help of its supporters from Russia and abroad initiates the creation of volunteers fire fighting brigades in order to preserve valuable forest stands in the leopard home range.
Over the past three years, WWF equipped 18 fire fighting groups out of different structures such as hunting estates “Nezhinskoye”, “Borisovskoye”, “Slavyanskoye”, farmers, forestries, “Kedrovaya Pad” nature reserve, “Leopardovy” wildlife refuge, the border guard service, the fire fighting brigades of two military polygons within the territory of the refuge, with about 100 units of fire fighting equipment , including fire blowers, backpack pumps and grass-mowing machines.
With the funds of “M-video” company the mini track Toyota Dyna was purchased, which now is involved in fire fighting, fire monitoring and setting back fires in the beginning of fire season in the leopard home range under coordination of WWF staff. The truck is equipped with a plastic tank for water with the capacity of 1000 liters, two power pumps, 5 fire blowers, a Husgvarna 365 chain saw, and four canisters with gasoline. The brigade operating the truck is communicating with walky-talky Kenwood TK-450A for better coordination.
To reconstruct the fire breaking belts, the “Nerpinsky” enterprise is equipped with a small bulldozer and a truck for its transportation.
The recent purchase with the help of the company “International tobacco marketing services” – is an ATV 4-wheeler for operative transfer of fire fighting groups to the fire sites.
All the equipment purchased with funds donated by WWF supporters is regularly involved in fire fighting activity.