Spreading tiger awareness in remote Russia

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is raising awareness of the success of the Amur tiger rehabilitation project in the residential communities that are closest to these released tigers.

Our route started in Blagoveshchensk (Amur Region) and proceeded to the village of Blagoslavennoe (Jewish Autonomous Region). We were able to visit eight communities (two towns, two urban-type settlements and four villages).

Orphaned children live and study at a boarding school in the settlement of Novobureysky. We talked to the kids for approximately four hours about the tigers, and they asked detailed questions about tiger conservation and about professional duties of state wildlife inspectors. Perhaps some of them in the future will dedicate their life to conservation and research of the large felines.

At a small village school in the village of Kundur (Amur Region) when we told younger children that released tigers, the orphaned tiger cubs, who grew up and managed to survive in the wild, live not very far from them, the children started calling themselves guardians of these animals.

They promised that when they grow up they will explain to everyone how it is possible to live peacefully alongside such large predators as tigers.

After the lecture the kids immediately started drawing Kuzya, Borya, Ilona, Svetlaya and Zolushka.

I was in awe of how students as young as the first grade have such good knowledge of biodiversity of their region. We would like to express gratitude to their teachers, who do their work on such a high professional level.

Incidentally, even hunters here do not see the released animals as a problem. During a year of having the predators as their neighbors, they did not witness a noticeable decrease of hoofed animals population within their plots, which they now share with the tigers.

It was interesting to talk to the local residents in the village of Chernigovka in the Amur Region. Last year Borya approached this village very closely and the residents were extremely preoccupied by this. However, within the year no conflict situations arose, and people's reaction to the new neighbor is much calmer. When they found out that Borya occasionally hunts bears (there is an extreme situation with conflict bears this year in the region), they became proud of their new neighbor.

Two people claim to have seen the tigers. One meeting took place at the motorway: “The tiger jumped over the road like a spark”, said the driver. “It stopped for a second at the roadside, looked back and ran to the taiga, this is when we noticed the collar.” Since the site where the animal was seen is within the range of both male tigers, it was most likely Borya or Kuzya.

The second meeting was described by a student who did internship in “Khingansky” Natural Reserve. The student says the animal jumped over a forest trail. Thankfully, it was seen from afar.

We have definitely witnessed a positive shift in the attitude of the local residents to the release of tigers in their historic range.

--EB

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Experts

Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Gail A'Brunzo, Manager, Wildlife Rescue
Manager, Wildlife Rescue
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy