Threats persist for wild Amur tigers in Far East Russia

Threats persist for wild Amur tigers in Far East Russia
Friday, 26 September, 2014
Vladivostok, Russia

On the Tiger Day eve which is celebrated on September 28 in the streets of Vladivostok  and some other cities of the Russian Far East, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) cautions that the Amur tiger population is still in danger and that their population may be decreasing despite recent successes in tiger rehabilitation.

IFAW organises and participates for the 12th time in the annual  Tiger Day which  is aimed at raising awareness of threats for endangered Amur tiger population and involving  people in actions to protect these rare species. 

Loss of habitat, logging, uncontrolled hunting of tigers’ prey and poaching remain the main threats for these big cats. In 2005, scientists registered 362 animals during a complete Amur tiger population census. In the next years there were estimations that the number grew much above  400.  However, further observations indicated the worsening of the situation: in 2005 about 110 wild tigers were sited on the monitoring grounds installed at some control points in the Amur tiger range, and in 2011 there were a few more than 80, an almost 30 percent reduction (V.V. Gaponov, 2012; Miquelle et al., 2007)

Internet trade in skins, bones and other tiger parts also pose a serious threat. IFAW conducted online research for wild tiger parts in 2013 and found 28 related announcements amounting to 21 dead Amur tigers.

 “Amur tiger derivatives and even live tigers are available on the Internet in Russia despite the total hunting ban in this country,” said Anna Filippova, IFAW Russia Amur tiger program campaigner. “High demand and a lack of law enforcement fuel the poaching.”

Earlier this year, five tigers, found as orphaned cubs in 2012 and 2013,  were released back to the wild in Far East Russia in the biggest ever release of wild Amur tigers in this country. Their rehabilitation and release was made possible by the joint efforts of IFAW, the Russian A.N. Severtsov Inst itute for Ecology and Evolution Studies, Special Inspection “Tiger”, WCS and the Phoenix Fund. All tigers released – brothers named Borya and Kuzya, females Ilona and Svetlaya and the male Ustin – had been cared for more than a year in the Rehab and Reintroduction Facility near Vladivostok, Russia. IFAW provided food supply for the big cats, equipment, monitoring cameras for enclosures, medicines and veterinarian treatment.

While very important today, Tiger releases alone will not protect the wild population, which is still endangered. In combination with public education, good enforcement to combat poaching and illicit trade, tiger friendly infrastructure and preservation of the habitats it may make a difference.

It’s estimated that poachers kill 30 to 40 wild tigers in Russia annually. In order to prevent illegal hunting of big cats in Russia, IFAW has been supporting anti-poaching brigades for many years, supplying off-road vehicles, a powered paraglider for habitat monitoring from the air, a snow mobile, an ATV and GPS navigators. This year, for the tenth time in a row, IFAW will award the two best rangers with a trip to one of India’s tiger reserves to exchange experiences with their Indian counterparts.

About IFAW

Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Photos are available at www.ifawimages.com

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