Russia and China: tigers and leopards know no borders
Transboundary issues in provincial natural resources management was the main topic for the IV International Forum «Nature Without Borders» which took place on 19 July in Vladivostok. At the initiative of WWF Russia a delegation from China became one of the honored guests and participants of the Forum. The delegation was led by the academician Ma Jianzhang, the director of the Feline Research Center of the State Forestry Administration of China (SFA), and included participation from state forestry administrations from Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces, experts from the Feline Research Center and WWF China.
During the «Transboundary and conservation of biodiversity» section experts from Russia, China and Korea discussed the issues of conservation and restoration of Changbaishan and Wandashan tiger and leopard populations. It was noted that due to the joint efforts of China and Russia population status and habitat protection for leopards were improved.
The «Land of the Leopard» National Park (jointly administrated with Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve) was recently established in Russia, and in China the territory of the Wanqing Wildlife Refuge was expanded and the «Suiyang» Nature Reserve was created. Thus, together with Hunchun National Reserve a united transboundary protected area including 5 nature reserves, wildlife refuges and national parks with an overall area of 5 thousand square kilometers was created. It is suitable for regular existence of 70-100 leopards and for a group of 25-30 tigers,” - comments Yury Darman, PhD, director of WWF Russia Amur branch.
The participants exchanged experience with tiger, leopard and ungulate monitoring. The unique experience of leopard inventory by multi-year camera trap monitoring method generated great interest amongst Forum participants. This method was presented by WCS, WWF, the Institute of Geography and the Biological Soil Institute of the Far Eastern branch of Russian Academy of Sciences. Using the method these organizations created unique profiles for 80 different leopards. It is proposed to extend the activities on leopard monitoring with camera traps and genetic analysis methods across the whole home range in order to provide a comprehensive leopard inventory of all individuals. The decision was made to facilitate the organization of regular tiger and leopard monitoring in the Russia-China border zone.
The necessity of strengthening cooperation between Russia and China for protection of the ecological corridor in the Strelnikov mountain range - Wandashan mountain range was specially highlighted. The main condition for this is the establishment of Sredneussuriisky Provincial Wildlife Refuge in Primorsky Province and Dongfanghong Nature Reserve in Heilongjiang Province. In this connection the participants suggested to the Administration of Primorsky Province to accept urgent measures for creation of Sredneussuriisky Provincial Refuge. It was also proposed to urgently create protected zones around nature reserves and national parks within the tiger and leopard home range. It was also recommended to strongly restrict hunting for ungulates on the territories of hunting estates within tiger and leopard habitat especially in the Russia-China border zone.
«We cannot be only oriented to the protection of the upper key species of the food chain, because their welfare depends on all the other levels. In regards tigers and leopards, the basis of this chain is the food supply for the tiger’s prey base. Namely, there is a question, if there is enough food for those animals which are the food for tigers, - noted Yury Zhuravlev, academician, director of the Biological Soil Institute while summarizing the results of the sectional meeting. – The Tiger Forum in 2010 presented a gift to us - on the federal level Korean pine was included to the list of species prohibited for harvesting. But the Korean pine on its own is not enough, we have to think how to restrict logging in oak forests, because oak forest is the basis for food supply for ungulates.»
The second block of the reports was devoted to transboundary issues of migratory birds conservation, especially white crane, white-naped crane, Japanese and black cranes and Oriental white stork.
The participants of the section listened and greeted the Statement of the Ministers responsible for the environment in Asia-Pacific countries, approved at the preparatory meeting for the APEC Summit conducted in Khabarovsk on 18 July, 2012.
«We appeal to the APEC Summit with the request to create financial and organizational mechanisms for realization of the action priorities listed in this resolution and take into account the recommendations of the International Forum »Nature Without Borders«, firstly, for development of joint programs on rare species conservation, which require joint efforts between Asia-Pacific countries (tiger, leopard, white crane, Japanese, white-naped and black cranes, Oriental white stork, as well as creation of the number of transboundary nature reserves» - the Forum Resolution stated.