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Monitoring of the Amur tiger: 16 years on 16 plots

24 december 2013
A regular stage of the Amur tiger monitoring has just started in the Russian Far East with the financial support of WWF and in cooperation with the Center for Conservation and Study of the Amur Tiger, an autonomous non-commercial organization.

According to Primorsky Province Administration the field work will be done in two steps by the Hunting Department’s staff and external experts and knowledgeable hunters. The main task is to identify tigers number and other characteristics of the population on the model monitoring plots and to register changes in its forage supply, i.e. the number of wild ungulates, and its habitat.

«This winter is the last chance to find hands and try out interagency cooperation for tiger census next year, notes Vladimir Vasiliev, head of Primorsky Province Hunting Department.

The first tiger monitoring activities started in the winter of 1997-1998. Back then a number of NGOs together with the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Science laid a mechanism that today helps the authorities and scientific organizations to understand the processes happening inside the population of the rare predator.

To monitor changes in the tiger habitats is also a very important part of the field work. Among other issues under research are the level of poaching and its influence on tiger and its prey; logging and its impact on wild ungulates; tiger’s feeding structure etc. Primorsky Province Hunting Department has organized and partially financed all activities on implementation of the Amur tiger monitoring program in Primorye since 2010. Besides, all federal protected areas – nature reserves and national parks – that have the monitoring plots are involved in the process.

Over the years a huge layer of information has been gathered that has become among others the basis for Presidential List of Orders on conservation of the Amur tiger and Amur leopard.

«At the initial stage of the monitoring of tiger and its habitats one of the main tasks was to count tigers within each monitoring plot, notes Pavel Fomenko, biodiversity conservation program coordinator at WWF Russia Amur branch.Todothiswewalkedprearrangedroutslookingforandmeasuringtigerspawprints. Over 16 years, the situation has been changed both inside the plots and outside so the time has come first, to analyze and summarize all collected data and to reshape the monitoring program”.

According to Pavel Fomenko, in general the monitoring was designed as a program for evaluating the status of tiger between the overall tiger census that are conducted once in ten years. And it has proved its worth. The coming tiger census-2014-2015 will confirm the accuracy of the monitoring program conclusions but only if the tiger census will be done according to the Recommendations on Conducting and Organizing of the Amur Tiger Census in the Russian federation approved in 2005 by the special order of the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. Only then the results received in 2014-2015 will be comparable with data of 2004-2005 tiger census.

the Amur tiger
© Pavel Fomenko / WWF Russia