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Record amount of Amur tiger skins seized in Primorye

27 august 2012
Over a short period of time Primorsky Province enforcement agencies in cooperation with WWF Russia staff have planned and conducted an operation to detain criminals involved in wildlife resources trade in Province.

The operation was based on previously received and thoroughly checked information.

Local Policemen Department has been informed that one of the citizens of Arseniev (a small city in central Primorye) deals with buying wild-growing plants and Amur tiger derivates.

Thanks to the high skills of the policemen a suspect was caught off his guard. 8 tiger skins, 1, 4 kilograms of wild ginseng, about 100 bottled in vodka ginseng roots, pelts of mink, otter, and fox were revealed hidden in refrigerators and closets. Also, 150 rifle cartridges and around 150 000 USD were disclosed.

“This is quite a shocking amount! Preliminary examination of the seized wildlife products drive us to the conclusion that the suspect was engaged in buying and reselling focusing on China domestic market, - comments Sergei Aramilev, biodiversity conservation program coordinator at WWF Russia Amur branch. – Tiger population has suffered a severe loss as the skins detained belong to a tiger male, two female, one young tiger of an unknown sex, and to four cubs one of which is only 1-2 months old. The number of tigers killed was probably higher as no skins of nursing females were revealed but one of the killed cubs was suckling. It means that more female were killed and sold. If to take into account that, for example, only on 120 000 hectares of the Lazovsky Nature Reserve 8-11 tigers roam then theoretically poachers have destroyed the tiger group of the same size on the same area. It is still unknown for how long the suspect was buying skins but it is clear that they have come from different districts of Primorye. Interrogation faces not easy task – to define the whole chain of people involved in the criminal business.”

“This is the biggest shipment of the Amur tiger skins seized by enforcement bodies since perestroika. At the same time the existence of such a huge lot of derivates indicates that the demand on tigers first from China and second from so-called new Russians remains high,” - comments Pavel Fomenko, biodiversity conservation program coordinator at WWF Russia Amur branch.

Right away the investigation is being run after which no sooner than in ten days the suspect will be charged.

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