Phoenix Fund

Our mission is to conserve the exceptionally rich fauna and flora of the Russian Far East, the only region where Amur tigers and leopards survive in the wild. These magnificent animals are threatened by habitat deterioration, poaching of the big cats themselves and depletion of their prey populations.
Oct 1, 2014

Quadcopter gets a bird's-eye view of the park

First outdoor test flight of a quadcopter have occurred under the territory of Land of the Leopard National Park this week. Bird’s-eye view video and images of the protected area were get thanks to the Phoenix Fund. More and more frequently, one can see that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with mounted photo- and video cameras are used during outdoor public events. However, it is no secret that quadcopters are also used to get beautiful landscape photos. Thanks to the Phoenix Fund, it became possible to do landscape photos just a few hundred meters above a tourist route named “Following the Path of the Leopard”. During a walk along the route, the quadcopter rose in the sky several times. Although trees with abundant foliage did not let to see the details of the tourist route, it became possible to get wonderful bird’s-eye views of the hills in the national park; and it’s worth it.

“Today new technology gives us unique opportunities”, says Valentina Vysotskaya, Head of the Environmental Education Department of Land of the Leopard National Park. “It let us show much better and more vividly the beauty of the Southwest Primorye to people who have already visited us and those who are just planning to come here. I hope that our collection of still photos taken from the quadcopter will be constantly replenished by the new ones, and they will help attract here real nature enthusiasts”.

After conducting successful first test flights of the quadcopter above the Land of the Leopard, specialists of the Phoenix Fund and the national park would like to hold a series of analogous meetings.

“Our task is to help national parks and nature reserves of the Russian Far East to protect unique nature”, says Director of the Phoenix Fund Sergei Bereznuk. “In our work we are trying to go with the times and use new tools and technology. And light unmanned aerial vehicles with mounted video cameras are among these tools. A quadcopter flying camera lets observe how the national park is protected, gives information on areas that have high fire potential, and helps monitor wildlife, etc. Also, it is important to note that such camera let show beautiful landscape and natural objects from a different angle. We are hopeful that such a new look at the Land of the Leopard will draw more attention towards conservation of rare big cats living in this area. We have been working on this pilot project for the second year in row through trial and error. Now, we are moving into a different level. We can provide technical assistance and lead the project in the protected areas of the Russian Far East. We are thankful to Alertis: fund for bear and nature conservation, Whitley Fund for Nature and ALTA for their support of this pilot project”.

You can see video here: http://youtu.be/dCB7LA8Hbzg

Links:

Aug 26, 2014

How the released tiger cubs are doing?

According to the specialists from the Programme for the study and conservation of the Amur tiger in the Russian Far East the two Amur tigers that were released into the wild at the Zhuravliny wildlife sanctuary in the Jewish Autonomous Region are doing fine! 

On 3 June, two cubs Svetlaya and Yustin left the Rehabilitation Centre for a location in the north of the Jewish Autonomous Region in a motorcade led by an air-conditioned animal transportation vehicle. After a 1,200-kilometre non-stop drive, the motorcade arrived at the village of Bidzhan, where a crane was used to reload the 400-kilogramme cages to caterpillar cross-country vehicles that headed across marshy terrain for the Zhuravliny wildlife sanctuary.

The last 60-kilometre leg through the marshes was the most trying experience for all expedition members, who were tormented by heat and gadflies. People had to stop several times to spray the tigers and the cages with cool water from the river.

On 5 June, when ecologists, biologists and environmentalists celebrated the World Environment Day, the two tigers, Yustin and Svetlaya, were released into the wild. Thus, yet another step was made towards restoring the Amur tiger population in an area where it had been destroyed by humans in the mid-20th century.

The tigers survived the journey fairly well. In the dusk, the cages were lowered by hand to the ground at a maximum distance from populated localities in an area where concentrations of wild boar, roe deer, red deer and other potential prey had been spotted.

All the released tigers are being covered by a comprehensive monitoring project. Satellite collars help scientists to track their movements and identify hunting grounds. The satellite data indicate that the cubs adapted successfully and now enjoy their freedom.

We thank everyone who contributed to the rehabilitation of Svetlaya and Yustin and made this comeback to wild possible for the tiger cubs that were doomed to die or live a poor life somewhere in a cage!

Aug 26, 2014

Leopard protection ensured by professional rangers

Leopard returned to depredation site at Bezverhovo
Leopard returned to depredation site at Bezverhovo

In May, the team carried on patrolling the assigned territory in order to prevent and reveal ecological violations in the Land of the Leopard National Park and adjacent areas of hunting leases. The team patrolled day and night. In all, the inspectors conducted 21 patrols. Besides protecting the Park from poachers, the inspectors also do their best to prevent and extinguish any ignitions on the protected area.

Also, the team gave one lecture on careful attitude towards nature for schoolchildren in Barabash village of Khasan district.

On May 1, the team finally put out the fire that started near Bamburovo railway station a few days earlier. No more ignitions were revealed in May in the southern part of the protected area.

On May 21, the inspectors set up 11 new border signs along Razdolnoye-Bezverkhovo highway.

From May 21 through May 23, the team patrolled the northern part of the national park and found out that the area near engineering and technical facilities (wired fences and the exclusion zone) along Russia-China border was frequently visited by people, supposedly by border guards, with intent to hunt illegally there. The information was forwarded to the inspector who was in charge of protecting that part of the park.

In May, it was decided to spend more time in ambushes near hand-made salt licks in order to prevent illegal hunting there.

In May, the team carried on patrolling the assigned territory in order to prevent and reveal ecological violations in the Land of the Leopard National Park and adjacent areas of hunting leases. The team patrolled day and night. In all, the inspectors conducted 21 patrols. Besides protecting the Park from poachers, the inspectors also do their best to prevent and extinguish any ignitions on the protected area.
Also, the team gave one lecture on careful attitude towards nature for schoolchildren in Barabash village of Khasan district.

On May 1, the team finally put out the fire that started near Bamburovo railway station a few years earlier. No more ignitions were revealed in May in the southern part of the protected area.

On May 21, the inspectors set up 11 new border signs along Razdolnoye-Bezverkhovo highway.

From May 21 through May 23, the team patrolled the northern part of the national park and found out that the area near engineering and technical facilities (wired fences and the exclusion zone) along Russia-China border was frequently visited by people, supposedly by border guards, with intent to hunt illegally there. The information was forwarded to the inspector who was in charge of protecting that part of the park.

In May, it was decided to spend more time in ambushes near hand-made salt licks in order to prevent illegal hunting there.

In June, the team of central subordination patrolled the Land of the Leopard National Park and adjacent areas of hunting leases in Khasan and Nadezhdinsky districts. The patrols were carried out mostly during the late evening or at night. All in all, the inspectors conducted 22 patrols.

On June 14, while patrolling the protected area near Pozharsky railway station at 3 a.m., the inspectors noticed a light ray bouncing in many different directions. It was decided to get close and see what was happening there. Having arrived at the railway, the inspectors spotted a car parked there and the rays of two flashlights coming towards the team. The inspectors decided to wait out in the bushes until people get closer. When two men approached the inspectors, it became clear that they had been hunting illegally with the use of spotlight at night. One of the men who turned out to be a police officer working in Vladivostok city was armed with a gun. He was detained, but his partner managed to escape. The detainee was taken to Slavyansky police station to initiate a criminal proceeding.

On June 28, during a night patrol along the Narva River, the team saw the light running in all directions. The inspectors pulled in to the side of the road and walked towards violators. After a while, they heard five gunshots. When they got closer, the inspectors saw people doing something in the field. When they tried to get out from the forest and go out on the road, one of the violator was detained. The other one offered serious resistance, and even shot in the air to frighten the inspectors. The detainee had a carbine, a knife, a bag with cartridges and a flashlight. Also, the inspectors examined a place in the field where the violators were spotted and found three backpacks with meat and two skins and heads of sika deer. The detainee was taken to Slavyansky police station where a criminal proceeding was initiated against him in accordance with 258 article of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

 

In July rangers conducted 23 patrols during which only one violation of protected regime was registered. On July 29, two residents of Barabash village entered the protected area without permissions. The inspectors issued administrative reports.

Also, on July 7, the team was investigating a case where a leopard killed a deer at a farm in Bezverkhovo. The rangers confirmed by the evidence on site that the animal was killed by a leopard and now the owner can address to Phoenix Fund for compensation. Since 1999 Phoenix has been paying compensations to farmers suffering from livestock depredation in order to discourage farmers and villagers from killing predators. Due to limited funding, the program runs only in Khasan district, where Amur leopards are the priority for conservation.

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