Leading experts discussed conservation of the Amur tiger
to fulfil its international obligations to protect this rare predator. This conclusion is based on the results of the Tiger Census 2015 discussed at the Amur Tiger Conference held in Vladivostok, Russia.
More than 60 experts from Russia, China, South Korea and Japan took part in the conference “The Amur tiger: population status, problems and protection prospects”, held in Vladivostok on 13-15 December. The conference was organized by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Russian Federation, the Institute of Biology and Soil of the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Pacific Institute of Geography, the Amur Tiger Center and WWF Russia.
“In 2010, at the International Tiger Summit in St-Petersburg the government of the Russian Federation set up a goal to preserve and increase the Amur tiger population and protect its habitat. Since then, a number of nature conservation actions had been undertaken such as including Korean pine into the list of tree species banned from harvest. These actions ensured stable tiger population, which is confirmed by data gathered in the course of the winter survey,” comments Yury Zhuravlev, academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, director of the Institute of Biology and Soil, chair of the steering committee of the conference.
During the three days leading scientists and experts representing academia, NGOs and government agencies summed up the 5 year results of implementation of the Strategy For Conservation of the Amur Tiger expiring in 2022.
“We succeeded in enlarging, thanks to joint efforts, the living space for this endangered species. In Primorsky Province, “Land of the Leopard” and “Bikin” National Parks were established, as well as Sredne-Ussuriisky Provincial Wildlife Refuge. After 5 years, the total area of protected tiger habitat increased by more than 1,5 mln hectares and reached 24% of the Amur tiger home range. Among the challenges in meeting the targets of the Action Plan was the delay of the creation of buffer zones around federal protected areas and blocking the establishment of Pompeevsky National Park in Evreiskaya Province. By the way, this area is the home for 3 out of 5 tigers released into the wild by Vladimir Putin in 2014”, comments Yury Darman, PhD, head of WWF Russia Amur Branch.
The main scientific reports were devoted to the monitoring of rare cats population and the results of the full range Amur tiger and leopard survey held in 2014-2015 in the Russian Far East.
“The Amur tiger census on its entire range required huge amount of work involving great number of people and organizations. More than 1200 transects of the total length about 23 000 kilometers had been checked by trackers. Every 20 kilometers they found at least one tiger track. As a result, the Amur tiger population was estimated at the range of 523-540 individuals: 133-136 males, 208-213 females, 98-100 tiger cubs, and 84-91 tigers of undetermined gender and age.” comments Vladimir Aramilev, PhD, director of joint directorate of Lazovsky Nature Reserve and Zov Tigra National Park, scientific coordinator of tiger census in 2015.
“The short-term goal, to stabilize tiger population at the level not less than 500 individuals is accomplished. This means that the concept of the Amur tiger protection forming the basis of the Strategy revised 5 years ago, was properly chosen, and we implemented it in the right way,comments Sergey Aramilev, PhD, director of Primorsky Branch of the Amur Tiger Center. – In order to achieve the goal of Global Tiger Recovery Program, to increase tiger numbers up to 700 individuals by 2022, we need to adjust the Action Plan in terms of priority actions on the Amur tiger conservation. It is quite common to have when the Plan is corrected due to changing circumstances. Even though many targets had been already accomplished, new and emerging threats and problems require to be addressed.
Scientific research is key for effective protection efforts. However, no matter how advanced research methodologies are, they do not directly protect tigers. It is only real actions based on theoretical and scientific data that can ensure protection.
Sergey Aramilev notes, “Our common goal is to find a balance between scientific surveys and practical actions, and the latter must be more numerous than the former. Real actions should include anti-poaching activities, support and equipment of ranger groups, and forest protection”.
At the conference the scientists and experts suggested new ideas to be included in the Action Plan of Strategy for Conservation of the Amur Tiger. Experts believe that these amendments adopted at the Conference will help to achieve the goal of increasing tiger population, as well as ensure peaceful coexistence of tigers and humans on one territory.