Thousands gather in Vladivostok for annual Russian Tiger Day
Watch the slideshow above which includes images from the 2013 Russian Tiger Day held in Vladivostok.
Tiger Day arrived again, and again I found myself in Vladivostok, this wonderfully beautiful city.
The city is now adorned by new bridges which are visible from almost anywhere. The morning was a bit cloudy, but the sun managed to strike through the overcast sky and to cast a light on the central square.
As usual I was anxious for everything to go well, for us to be able to get enough volunteers, for the public to come to the Tiger Day, for them to find time to stop by our stand and for other logistical details to go well which often greatly influence the result. This year we flew to the festival together with Nastya Ivanova, and she took responsibility for a lot of organizational work.
I think the festival was a success again.
Approximately 8000 people went to the streets to celebrate the Tiger Day, and the IFAW's section of the march was joined by over 200 people; it was one of the largest and our stand was the last one to be closed.
All of this was possible due to the help of volunteers engaged by Ulyana Serduk, postgraduate student of Biology Department of the Far Eastern Federal University. Each year Ulyana manages to bring on board more and more volunteers; moreover she is able to find truly wonderful people; many of them join us year after year.
The volunteers waked with the IFAW section of the march, held a quiz at our stand, distributed our souvenirs and the brochures (this is the 4th update edition of the brochure), they did tiger face painting for everyone who wanted to have one and collected signatures in support of the petition. During the day we were able to collect over 1000 voices in favor for the increase of the number of forest inspectors and their funding.
In the last three years we established a tradition of awarding the best inspectors of the specially protected natural reserves during the Tiger Day at the central square of the city.
Since 2003 IFAW selects the best inspectors of specially protected natural reserves of the Primorsky Krai and awards them with a trip to national parks of India. This year the award ceremony took place at the very beginning of the Tiger Day festival when the public were not yet tired.
Nastya and myself both tried to explain to the residents of the city who came to the festival why the work of inspectors is so important.
Unfortunately, today their work is not as respected as years ago. There are a number of reasons for this, but the most important is the honor of the inspector: the unscrupulous ones cover for the poachers, or even worse, engage in poaching themselves.
Of course residents of villages know this.
How can one respect such people and moreover follow their orders in the forest?
But there are other inspectors, the ones who detain the perpetrators regardless of their attempts at bribing or the status of those they catch red-handed.
These are the ones supported by the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
We are working to reinstate the respect the state inspectors once commanded. Selection of the awardees is not random. Several years ago WCS and Phoenix Foundation initiated the MIST program (PDF).
This program allows for objective assessment of activities of each inspector; namely, how many walking routes and routes by cars and motorcycles they made, how many inspections and detentions were performed, how many firearms were confiscated, etc.
We also of course ask the directors of the specially protected natural reserves to assess how the work results comply with the work standard. This year the best state inspectors of specially protected natural reserves were Andrey Nikolaevich Voloshin and Sergey Anatolievich Zavedeev, representing the national nature park “Leopard Land” and Lazovsky natural reserve respectively.
Tiger Day has been taking place for 14 years already. Every year people take to the streets wearing tiger and leopard costumes, holding banners and chanting, and organizers distribute their souvenirs at their stands.
One can ask what can be added to it?
I will not boast of our work (i.e. IFAW, though we put a lot of effort into it).
Among other stands I in particular appreciated the WCS' idea: they placed a tree in their stand and installed a real trail camera on it. Such trail cameras are placed in forests to document animals inhabiting a particular area. The WCS offered to the public to make a picture of themselves with the background of a forest, and then printed the pictures on the spot. I think this is a great idea, just like in Disney World, where get a picture of yourself taken while you are enjoying a ride.
I was smitten by one participant of the march in particular: a pug in a “tiger” vest. He was trotting proudly with his owner and seemed to be enjoying himself.
In the evening, when already quite tired we were returning to our hotel in “Arbat” (a pedestrian street in Vladivostok), we saw the singing and dancing Krishna followers (as a side note, I see them very often in Vladivostok, while in Moscow very rarely).
They were wearing red and orange clothes and in some way reminded of the today's festival, and looking closely at them I realized there is one more similarity: there was “tiger” make up.
One of the dancing young men had his face painted like a tiger. I could not resist asking him why he is a tiger, and the answer was quite predictable: he was at the Tiger Day today.
This entire day the city of Vladivostok was full of “tigers” of all shapes and colors.