About 2000 Russian trackers will take part in the simultaneous Amur tiger survey across its entire range
The high point of the event will be the full range Amur tiger survey, when about two thousand people walk transects through the forest almost simultaneously. The total length of survey transects will reach 15 thousand kilometers, which is equal to the distance from Vladivostok to London and back! 150 000 square kilometers of tiger habitats will be covered, which his is more than three times the size of the Netherlands!
In Russia a simultaneous full range Amur tiger census is held every 10 years. According to the last census, conducted in 2005, there were estimated to be 423-502 Amur tigers in the south of the Russian Far East. This figure comprises 95% of the population of this this subspecies on the planet.
In 2005, the census was carried out by WWF Russia and WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society), with the support of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The census of 2015 is organized by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Russian Federation, with the support of the “Amur Tiger Centre” and WWF. The lead in scientific coordination is taken by the Pacific Institute of Geography of the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The field workers will record the location of the striped cats, identify their age and gender by the size of the paw print, and determine the size of their litters (number o cubs). These data, as well as a variety of other information about the tiger, its prey and other competing predators will be accumulated in trackers’ diaries and later will become a basis for a digital database.
Pavel Fomenko, biodiversity conservation program coordinator at WWF Russia Amur branch, is one of 23 coordinators of this major event. He is in charge of conducting the census in the hardest and the most interesting area – in the southwestern Primorye, which is home to both the Amur tiger and Amur leopard.
According to Pavel Fomenko, who has a 30-years’ experience in the tiger census and monitoring activities, “As the weather conditions differ significantly on such a huge territory, with heavy snows in the north of Primorsky and Khabarovsky Provinces and the fear of rain in the southern Primorye, we have decided to conduct the research in stages starting from the south upward”.
“This year in the southwestern Primorye not only tiger will be counted. Another hero of the survey will be the Amur leopard”, Fomenko adds.
The census results will enable the scientists to assess the current status of the Amur tiger and will give them the unique chance to analyze what has occurred over the last ten years and how effective efforts were to protect the species.
The interim results of the census will be summed up by the end of May 2015 with the final report to be released in October 2015.
The census will help government agencies and non-governmental organizations to coordinate efforts in conservation of rare animals and the entire unique ecosystem of the southern Far East.
It is likely that the Strategy of the Amur Tiger Conservation in Russia will be amended based on the data received during the tiger census.