Ungulates in tiger habitat will be supplementary fed
The reserve forage supply is a necessity caused by poor crops of Korean pine nuts and acorns in the most part of the Amur tiger range this year. A snowy winter can result in the mass die off of wild hoofed animals.
Though there is one and a half months before the calendar winter comes the conservationists are getting themselves ready for the first snowfall to come. As it is known, snowy winters are a serious test for wild ungulates and not all of them manage to pass it. With a current shortage of fodder in the forest the risk of starvation death becomes extremely high.
According to an analysis conducted by the experts of WWF Russia and the Amur Tiger Center, this year due to poor crops of Korean pine nuts and oak acorns there is a lack of basic forage the animals feed on to gain reserve fat for the winter. That is why even now in some parts of the Amur tiger home range the bears and wild boars approach farmlands and villages. In the upcoming season if the snow level is over 40 cm and lasts for more than 20 days a part of roe deer and sika deer population may be lost. At the snow depth over 60 cm, wild boar and red deer will face the same tragedy. Let us remind you that such situations are rather common for Primorsky and Khabarovsky Provinces and occur every 5-7 years, and in some areas even more often.
“Over the years WWF Russia has been supporting a network of partner hunting estates. One of the main goals of our joint work is to maintain a high number of ungulates in key tiger habitats. For nearly 10 years we have been helping wild ungulates during hash winter conditions by purchasing forage and carrying out vaccination. Our joint efforts have resulted in a stable population numbers and steady increase in prey in these areas. The forthcoming winter will be extremely difficult, so now we attract in this activity all hunting estates ready to help wild animals,” comments Pavel Fomenko, biodiversity conservation program coordinator at WWF-Russia Amur branch.
Now, WWF Russia and the Amur Tiger Center staff are forming the reserve forage supply to be later re-distributed among the responsible hunting users. The job is supported by the Primorsky Province Administration.
“We understand that in case of ecological disaster caused by heavy snow and deficit of forage the death of a part of ungulate population is inevitable. It is obvious that we cannot save all the animals in such critical situation. Therefore, our main task is to rescue the breeding stock which give the new generation next year”, notes Sergei Aramilev, director of Primorsky branch of the Amur Tiger Center.
Distressful conditions for ungulates make it easy for a tiger to hunt. Normally at such times tigers have enough prey but the situation changes in spring when the number of hoofed animals decreases due to their death and the tigers begin to approach villages, and in some cases attack domestic animals. This winter a growth of human-tiger conflicts is expected as ungulates will concentrate near croplands. Chasing them tigers may provoke encounters with humans. Experts believe that the increase of the supplementary forage volumes will reduce the number of such accidents. If hoofed animals are well-nourished predators will also have enough food.
The shortage of forage is also worsened by poachers. They take advantage of the unfavorable conditions the wild animals face. In the coming winter, same as last year, it is planned to strengthen patrolling of the Hunting Departments’ brigades in the Amur tiger home range.