The next Amur tiger census will be carried out in Russia in 2020.
WWF Russia experts participated in the meeting.
As highlighted by the Minister of Natural Resources, according to the tiger census results of 2015, for the present moment there are estimated at least 523 tigers on the territory of the Russian Far East. Russia can be proud of the main result of joint efforts – 30 years of stable Amur tiger population numbers – the largest non-fragmented population of this species in the world, while other countries experienced its catastrophic decline.
The full range Amur tiger survey in the Russian Far East was held once every 10 years, providing information not only about the predators numbers, but also about changes in their distribution, breeding and mortality. It allowed to reconsider the conservation Strategy and correct ten-year Action Plans.
“Tiger census is not an end in itself. It is necessary to transform the obtained data into protection measures, - comments Yury Darman, PhD,the head of WWF Russia Amur branch, distinguished ecologist of the Russian Federation. - The revealed concentrations of tigers confirm the right decision to establish a national park on the Bikin River, buffer zones around Ussuriisky Nature Reserve, “Udege Legend” and “Zov Tigra” National Parks, to strengthen the system of protected areas in the Khor River Basin. Newly appeared sites with tigers on the left bank of the Amur River confirm the need to create Pompeevsky National Park in Evreiskaya Province and Arsenyevsky Wildlife Refuge in Khabarovsky Province. The blank spots on the map of tiger encounters in the best tiger habitats are of our particular concern. That means whether the tigers were killed or wild ungulates were hunted by poachers. This requires the engagement of law enforcement agencies and hunting management authorities”.
Amur tiger census covering about 20 million hectares is an expensive campaign. In midterms it is enough to monitor the situation on 10%-15% of the territory. Such winter track monitoring is carried out on 16 plots since 1998 and its results allowed to forecast the population status in 2015 as stable and with a trend to an increase.
This year at the same time with the winter track survey, 686 camera traps counted tigers on the territory of all nature reserves and national parks within tiger range allowing to identify each cat by its skin pattern. This methodology is recommended to be used for annual monitoring in the future.
“Tiger census of 2014-2015 revealed a number of serious issues to be addressed in the coming years. One of them is the decline in wild ungulate numbers, especially in Khabarovsky Province, as a result of ungulates death due to heavy snowfalls and lack of food, - comments Pavel Fomenko, biodiversity conservation program coordinator at WWF Russia Amur branch. - At present WWF Russia together with the Hunting Departments of Primorsky and Khabarovsky Provinces make the assessment of the ungulates mortality. It is vitally important to take urgent administrative measures to limit or totally ban the hunt on roe deer and red deer, the hoofed species mostly affected by heavy snowfalls.
Pavel Fomenko stressed out another urgent issue of illegal hunting on ungulates for further meat resale: “This is a real threat to the welfare of the tigers and hunting estates, from whom in fact the poachers steal the resources. The legislation should determine the order of transportation and circulation of hunt products, and eliminate the established schemes of illegal trade in wild meat”.