Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS

Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova

Regional Director, Russia & CIS

Masha established IFAW’s office in the Russian Federation in 1994, then initiated a campaign which led to a ban on the winter den hunt of hibernating bears. She helped expand the Orphan Bear Cub Rehabilitation Center, which has rescued, rehabilitated and released more than 170 orphan bear cubs back to wild.

Masha has also led campaigns resulting in the ban on the White Sea white coat harp seal hunt and the Sea of Okhotsk beluga hunt, as well as contributing to an increase in penalties for poaching of tigers and several other Red Book of Russia species.

As part of IFAW’s efforts to save the critically endangered western gray whale, Masha’s team helped ensure that off shore oil and gas pipelines were constructed around, rather than through, crucial feeding grounds near Sakhalin Island. They continue to work to prevent the construction of a third oil platform.

Masha has acted as advisor to Russian MPs, working to promote animal welfare on a political level. In Moscow she helped establish an animal clinic and shelter in cooperation with the organization Tess and local authorities, which provides spay/neuter surgery and works to address the homeless dog and cat situation in the city.

A recognized expert, Masha has been a member of the Russian Federation and IFAW delegations to international conferences including CITES, CMS and IWC. She is regularly interviewed by newspapers and magazines, and is filmed or consults on documentaries for major outlets such as Discovery and National Geographic.


  • Member, Animal Anti-Cruelty Law Working Group, Russia
  • Member, Public Board, Ministry of Natural Resources, Russia
  • Winner, Bruno Shubert Prize, 2004, for achievements in whale protection in Russia
  • IFAW Representative, Russia
  • Post-doctoral research, Department of Psychology, Dalhousie University, Canada
  • Protochordata research at Kristineberg Marine Biological Station of the Royal Academy of Science, Sweden
  • Visiting Scholar, Department of Echinoderms, Smithsonian Institution, USA
  • Research biologist, Tunicates, Soviet-Vietnamese Tropical Center, Nha-Trang, Vietnam



  • Masters Degree, Invertebrate Zoology, Moscow State University, USSR
  • Postgraduate student, N.K.Koltsov Institute of Developmental Biology, USSR Academy of Science
  • PhD. Embryology and Histology, USSR Academy of Science


Please contact our Russia office for copies of Masha’s popular and scientific articles.


The New York Times. Siberian Tiger, Released Into the Wild by Putin, Returns From His Sojourn in China

The New York Times. ‘Putin’s Tiger,’ in a Territory Grab All His Own, Swims to China

National Geographic. Rare Tiger Killed by Poachers in Siberia

Huff Post Green. Ignore the Stunts: Russian President Vladimir Putin is No Enviro Hero

The Moscow Times. 40 Years On, Polar Bears and Threats to Their Habitat are Multiplying

Open democracy. Saving baby seals: one woman’s crusade

Open democracy. Saving the Amur tiger

Davis School at Harvard, April, 2014. NGOs under Putin: The View of a Russian Environmentalist

Russia Today. Baby bears learn to fend for themselves at cub orphanage

Skynews. Russia Bans 'Sport' Of Shooting Sleeping Bears 

On Earth. Bad Dad to Mother Russia

Earth Times. We may witness the end of the Canadian seal trade

Press contact

To schedule an interview with Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, contact:
Lena Zharkova
Communications Officer, IFAW Russia
Tel: +7 (495) 937 83 86
Email: ezharkova@ifaw.org