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.
Apr 15, 2013

South team guards the park well

In January, the South team conducted 24 anti-poaching patrols on the territory of the Land of the Leopard National Park. Patrols were conducted both during the daytime and at night, mostly on the southern part of the protected area. Sometimes, the team also visited central and northern parts of the national park to reveal and prevent wildlife crimes. Patrols were carried out spontaneously, so that poachers could not plan their illegal actions. There were a few joint patrols with police officers and border guards. In January, the rangers observed remarkably high concentrations of hunters in the vicinity of roads hunting game at night, hunting from a vehicle or with the aid of a spotlight. Hunters did not want to hunt on foot due to deep snow this winter and preferred hunting from their vehicles. Also, by the drive-by hunting they could avoid to be tracked and caught by rangers. Moreover, ungulates descended from the hills into river valleys bordering with main roads in the area.

On January 4, during a night patrol the team spotted a vehicle near the Upper Brusya River and suspected that some guys were hunting there at night with the aid of a spotlight. The team members made an ambush at a place where the poachers could be easily stopped and arrested. The rangers set out a decoy deer to catch poachers who illegally commit drive-by deer shootings from their vehicles. They concealed themselves in the brush on the other side of the road and waited. The decoy deer was too tempting. As soon as the poacher approached the decoy deer and fired a shot from their vehicle or the road, the rangers swooped in. Unfortunately, the poachers managed to drive away, but the rangers saw a license plate and informed the police in order to identify an owner of the vehicle and investigate the case. 

On January 6, the team chased nighttime hunters. When the rangers stopped a vehicle of hunters, they inspected the jeep and found a rifle and a lamp that poachers used for nigh hunting. No killed animals were found. Probably, they threw it out of the vehicle trying to escape.  Suddenly, the violators decided to escape the scene and recklessly knocked down one of the rangers. After 15 minutes, the jeep with the violators was stopped by traffic police. A criminal proceeding was initiated.

On January 24, when patrolling an area near Narvinsky wildlife overpass, the team spotted footprints leading deep inside the protected area. It was decided to track down trespassers. Only after a 5-hour pursuit the rangers caught two men with two rifles one of which turned out illegal. The detainees were taken to local police station.

In January, the team restored old feeding stations for ungulates and built a new one. Also, the rangers gave two lectures for schoolchildren in Zarubino (on January 14) and Barabash (on January 28).

In February, the team carried on patrolling the assigned territory. All in all, the team conducted 20 patrols. Besides anti-poaching activities, the rangers took part in wildlife survey.

On February 9, while patrolling the southern part of Land of the Leopard National Park, the team detained a man for unauthorized presence. An administrative citation was issued upon the violator. Later, on February 13, the same man was apprehended by the rangers again and was fined.

Evgeny Stoma, the team’s leader, noted that the number of intruders as well as the amount of illegal hunting decreased significantly. He suggests that it could be a result of regular patrols in the area and the frozen snow hindering movements in the forest. However, there were three cases of illegal hunting from vehicles.  Unfortunately, it was impossible to catch the violators.

On February 17, the team received a call from residents of Barabash village that a tiger approached close to their settlement. The rangers instructed the people on main rules of human behavior in case of encounter with the predator and asked to call them back if the tiger returned.

Additionally, the team together with Natalia Drobysheva, experienced educator, visited a school in Slavyanka and gave lectures on careful attitude towards nature.

In March, the team conducted 24 patrols.

Frequent foot patrols in hard-to-access areas of the national park did not reveal any sign of people’s presence there (no tracks) which proved that nobody entered that territory illegally in winter. Poachers mostly concentrated along roads and near human settlements where there was a high concentration of ungulates that time. In March, there were no poaching cases registered on the protected area, because March is a season of poaching of sea cucumber and therefore poachers focused their illegal activities from forest to the sea.

During foot patrols the rangers found a few artificial salt-licks for ungulates and tree stands installed for illegal hunting. They recorded coordinates of their discovery with the use of GPS units and will keep an eye on this area in summer when poachers are more likely to return there. 

There were several meetings with officers from Federal Security Bureau in order to discuss opportunities for cooperation aimed at prevention wildlife crimes.

In the middle of March, a six-member volunteer fire-fighting team began their activities. The team’s task was to prevent forest fires on the southern part of Land of the Leopard National Park. On March 31, several fires deliberately started by unknown persons along the railroad between Bomburovo and Pozharsky railway stations were promptly extinguished by the team.

Additionally, the team delivered forage for ungulates to feeding stations and gave lectures on nature for schoolchildren in Primorsky and Bezverkhovo villages.

Tiger prey
Tiger prey
Forest fire-fighting
Forest fire-fighting
Jan 16, 2013

End of the year patrol results

In October, the patrol work was generally conducted on the assigned southern territories of the Land of the Leopard National Park (LLNP). The team also patrolled northern and central parts of the PA. Some of the patrols were carried out with the involvement of operative employees of border troops, Primorsky Fishery Management Department and Regional Fishing Inspection.

The team carried out 30 patrols, 12 of them were productive (36 administrative citations for trespassing were issued, and also one criminal investigation was initiated). The work was conducted mainly during evening and night time.

In the end of October, the inspectors registered a splash in trespassing violations, such as entrance to the territory on a personal vehicle, illegal fishing of salmon, illegal camping, etc. These violations, first of all, were prompted by the beginning of salmon spawning season in the rivers of the protected area. It is worth mentioning that this season there were less local poachers from Khasansky district and more visitors from Ussuriisky, Spasky, Volnonadezhdensky districts. The decrease in violations among local population shows that local people are well aware of PA borders, the status of the national park and punishment for disobeying laws, but there is no such knowledge among citizens from other districts of Primorsky krai.

Considering the circumstances the team decided to concentrate attention on the rivers’ surroundings and the Narva River in particular. In the first half of the month the inspectors used a rubber boat to go downstream the river. However, violators quickly adapted to the team’s methods of work and changed their poaching strategies. Given that, the inspectors also changed their work tactics that brought good results.

Also during the reported period, the team did not lose control over forest territories of the Park. Several foot patrols were carried out in remote forests. These checks were aimed to reveal poaching. However, no hunting violations were revealed.

In October, the new team of fire-fighting volunteers was fully equipped. Fortunately, there were no ignitions in the southern territory of the LLNP.

In November, the South team conducted 26 anti-poaching patrols, issued 10 administrative citations and initiated a criminal proceeding against two groups of fishermen. While patrolling, the inspectors were charged with prevention illegal hunting and fishing. Patrols were conducted both during the daytime and at night. Sometimes, border guards and specialists of Regional Fishing Inspection joined the team to conduct joint patrols.

During the first part of November the team’s attention was paid to the prevention of violations near spawning rivers within the protected area, especially the Narva River. As a result, 10 administrative citations were issued on violators. When patrolling the Narva River, the inspectors detained two groups of anglers and took them to the local police station to initiate a criminal proceeding against them.

In the second part of November the team focused their attention on the forested area to prevent illegal hunting. On November 20, while patrolling the Upper Alimovka River, the team found foot prints leading deep in the wood of the protected area. When tracking the footprints, the inspectors discovered the remnants of wild roe deer. Unfortunately, further investigation did not let identify suspects who killed the animal. On November 21, during a patrol along the Narva River the team sighted an Amur leopard and took footage and photos of the rare animal.

Besides anti-poaching activities, the team also was involved in fire-fighting. On November 14, a fire was discovered on the wetlands of Bezverhovsky hunting lease, adjacent territory to the national park. The South team in cooperation with volunteers arrived on the scene and extinguished the fire promptly.

Additionally, the team delivered lectures on careful attitude towards nature at local schools in Tsukanovo and Gvozdevo villages.

In December, the South team conducted 28 anti-poaching patrols, participated in tiger/leopard survey in Land of the Leopard National Park, read two lectures for schoolchildren and initiated two criminal proceedings. Patrols were conducted both during the daytime and at night, mostly on the southern part of the protected area. While patrolling, the inspectors were charged with prevention illegal hunting and fishing. Sometimes, border guards and specialists of Regional Fishing Inspection joined the team to conduct joint patrols.

 On December 11, the inspectors detained a hunter for illegally killing of a pheasant while in possession of an illegal firearm. A criminal proceeding was initiated. Analogous violation was revealed on December 14 when the inspectors heard a gunshot and then managed to stop a car with a poacher. During a search of the car the rangers found an uncased rifle and a dead pheasant. A criminal proceeding was initiated.

No more violations were revealed in December, however more than once unauthorized presence of people was recorded in the protected area. Such facts coupled with the discoveries of dressed wild animals indicated that people came there to poach. Unfortunately, anti-poaching efforts used by the team did not let catch poachers. 

In December, two birds (a falcon and an owl) were found injured. After a few days of rehabilitation the falcon was released back to the wild, but the owl could not regain its health so quickly. The owl’s wing was seriously injured and it is more likely that it cannot fly anymore. The bird will be kept at special enclosure until vets will make final decision about its future.

From December 24 to December 26 the team participated in wildlife survey. On December 3 and December 10 the inspectors read lectures for schoolchildren in Kraskino and Posiet villages.

 

Jan 15, 2013

Stray Tiger Cub Found in Primorye

During the first week of January 2013 residents of Svetlogorye village, Pozharsky district of Primorye, found tiger cub paw prints near the human settlement.  Although there were no conflict cases yet, local people started getting nervous and informed local law enforcement agencies about the young predator. Tiger specialists immediately arrived at the scene in order to find out what caused the animal to approach the dwellings. According to specialists of Primorsky Hunting Management Department, there were four tiger cubs wandering about. Three of them made their way to the north – Khabarovsky krai, and the one left in Primorye. No tracks of any adult tigresses were found nearby.

The cub was captured on January 9th. As the animal was extremely emaciated, it was decided to transport it to the Utyos Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Khabarovsky krai which is located not too far from Svetlogorye village. There were fears that the cub would not get through a long trip to the Amur Tiger Rehabilitation Centre located in the south of Primorye (almost an 8-hour drive). The young predator will be kept at Utyos for at least a couple of weeks until vets can decide the fate of the animal. If the tiger regain its health quickly, it will be transported to the Amur Tiger Rehabilitation Centre for further rehabilitation where Centre’s caretakers will prepare the animal for release back to the wild.

It is known that cubs left without a mother in the wild are completely vulnerable and cannot survive on their own. Discovering tiger cubs roaming without their mother in the wild means that something must have happened to the adult tigress, otherwise, it would have never left its cubs alone. Experts will investigate the case and try to find out what have happened with the mother tigress.

Sergei Bereznuk, director of the Phoenix Fund:
That’s the second time this winter when orphaned tiger cubs are found in the wild. The first case occurred in late November 2012 when three cubs  were found without their mother, and now they are kept at the Amur Tiger Rehabilitation Centre near Alekseevka village (Nadezhdinsky district of Primorye). And now,one more tiger cub has been rescued. Probably, three other siblings will be captured soon too. This is certainly a very alarming sign for the Amur tiger population.  It might be supposed that tigresses had been killed by poachers. If the tiger cubs found this winter die, the population will lose  NINE individuals only within the first half of winter.  That is why our top priority now is to successfully rehabilitate them for return to the wild. It is extremely needed to provide finanacial support to the Amur Tiger Rehabilitation Centre, help keep tigers there and purchase necessary equipment“.

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