Russia and China: common tigers – common goals
The Memorandum of Understanding for transboundary cooperation on the Amur tiger and Far Eastern leopard and their habitat conservation was signed on 22 June in Harbin by the heads of the environment governance authorities of Primorsky Province of Russia and Heilongjiang Province of China with the assistance of WWF-Russia and WWF-China. The parties have agreed to conduct joint monitoring of the population numbers of the Amur tiger, Far Eastern leopard and their prey base, to set up information exchange and to enhance anti-poaching activities on both sides along Sino-Russian border.
«Heilongjiang and Primorsky Provinces are the critical area for conservation of the Amur tiger and Far Eastern leopard. Meanwhile, it is the key economic zone faced with extensive exploitation by two countries. It is our common responsibility to promote the transboundary cooperation between Russia and China, to support sustainable development of the Amur-Heilong eco-region to ensure the health eco-system and meet long term interests of both sides», - comments Mr. Dong Jie, deputy head of the of Heilongjiang Provincial Forestry Industry.
The General Administration of Heilongjiang Forestry Industry is an authority on the forestry economy and environment conservation of Heilongjiang Province. The administration administers ¼ area of Heilongjiang Province, including Wandashan and Laoyeling areas, which are the main transboundary corridors for the transfers of the Amur tiger from Russia to China. The Wildlife and Hunting Department of Primorsky Province is in charge of management and supervision over wildlife resources of Primorsky Province including Amur tigers and Far Eastern leopards.
«The MoU on transboundary cooperation on the Amur tiger and Far Eastern leopard signed between Heilongjiang and Primorsky Provinces for the first time, is of a great importance for nature protection in the region. Three years ago the cooperation Agreement was signed by the Wildlife and Hunting Department and the Forestry Department of Jilin Province of China, where the transboundary protected area is planned basing on Hunchun Nature Reserve and “Land of Leopard” National Park. The newly achieved agreements allows to develop conservation cooperation on the whole border territory of Primorsky Province and two Provinces of China on the related subordinate territories,– comments Vladimir Vasilyev, head of the Wildlife and Hunting Department of Primorsky Province. – In October 2012 Sredneussuriisky Wildlife Refuge bordering Heilongjiang Province was established on the Russian side as the transboundary corridor for Amur tiger, connecting Strelnikov Mountain Range in Russia and Wandashan Mountain Range in China. It worth mentioning, that this March the mature tiger male was recorded crossing the border in this area from Russia to China.
During this winter leopard survey the tracks of the Far Eastern leopard were registered for the first time over the past 20 years in Poltavsky Wildlife Refuge, which also borders Heilongjiang Province. One of the main aspects of the cooperation is to ensure safe transfers of Amur tigers and leopards from Russia to China and back, as well as to establish a protected area within Sino-Russian transboundary corridor.
«This agreement has been elaborated through a series of working meetings and conferences. Main aspects of the Memorandum were worked out in Vladivostok at the Forum «Nature Without Borders” in 2012 – comments Sergei Aramilev, Species program coordinator at WWF Russia Amur branch. – In time delivered information about places of tiger and leopard transfers across the border imposes additional responsibilities over both parties who should provide safe transfers and further protection of these cats, each on its territory. It is critically important for China, where optimal conditions for tiger and leopard survival are not yet ensured. Unfortunately, there is a high risk that the animal will be killed due to high level of poaching. This MoU will allow our colleagues to improve individual protection for each tiger and leopard wondering from one country to another».
To implement the tasks listed in the MoU the Wildlife and Hunting Department of Primorsky Province and the General Administration of Heilongjiang Provincial Forestry Industry will set up Sino-Russian Cooperation Coordination Group which will work out a join action plan and organize regular expert and data exchange.