Monitoring of Amur tigers
Over the past three years our partners from Zoological Society of London have been using camera traps to monitor tigers and also conducting snow track surveys in Zov Tigra National Park (ZT). Because it is vitally important to understand how tigers move within their range inside and outside of the park, the survey was extended to include the Lazovsky Nature Reserve and unprotected area between Zov Tigra and the reserve which is managed by the private hunting club “Medved” (MHL). Monitoring a larger and continuous area provided better information about tiger survival, reproduction, and movements of animals between protected areas where they are likely more susceptible to poaching.
Specialists counted 8 adult tigers in Zov Tigra and 25 more tigers in the study area outside the park from December 2012-May 2013. These results are great news for tigers because they indicate a 400% increase of tigers in ZT (which still has lots of room for more tigers) compared to two animals counted last year. The fact that no wolves were recorded this year in Zov Tigra is additional evidence that tigers are making a comeback because the decline of wolves as Amur tigers increase in abundance is well documented in Russia. Tiger specialists also found good reproduction in 2013 throughout the area including one new litter of cubs on neighboring protected area and 10 older cubs (sub adults) alive from 4 litters recorded during 2012 survey.
These results are the best indicator of the good anti-poaching protection of the park. We want to thank everyone who contributed to our project in 2013 through GlobalGiving! Your support has truly made a difference for tigers and we will be grateful if you will continue to support our law-enforcement work in Zov Tigra National Park in 2014.
*The study was conducted by Linda Kerley, ZSL
During the third quarter 2013 the inspectors of two mobile anti-poaching teams spent the majority of their time patrolling along the perimeter of Zov Tigra National Park and in its core area. Additionally, they conducted fieldwork to track animal populations and performed educational outreach services. During the patrols the anti-poaching teams checked camps and cabins located in the protected area, made ambushes on roads leading to the Park, tracked hunters, gathered all tips concerning illegal activities within the park. We are glad to inform that there was a growth in patrol efforts, although the inspectors started to travel too much on motor bikes and a quad bike instead of on foot. On a quad bike (ATV) purchased last year thanks to financial support from the Healthy Planet, the inspectors conducted off-road patrols through the Park’s brushy wilderness areas looking for people engaged in illegal activity where they did not manage to get before. Thus, from January through September 2013 about 1,550 km was patrolled on ATV. ATV has already showed greater performance in the mountainous landscape than the motorcycles and cars; and the Park’s administration informed that at least two more ATVs would be extremely useful for law-enforcement service of the protected area. We hope that it will be possible soon to purchase at least one extra ATV thanks to generous donations from GlobalGiving's donors.
In July and August, the inspectors carried out two long-range multi-day patrols (each lasted 22 days) on the northern part of the protected area, covered 169 km on foot along the Ussuri River and 705 km by Yamaha Grisly 700 quad bike and issued five administrative citations on illegal presence.
During the fieldwork on the southern part of the national park, the inspectors conducted seven patrols (31 days) along the Milogradovka River, covered 204 km on foot and 203 km by motorized vehicles and issued six administrative citations. Additionally, they spent 12 days patrolling along the Pasechny stream to prevent any crimes there. No violations were revealed.
Analyzing the data on administrative citations issued by the inspectors of Zov Tigra National Park between 2009 and 2013, we can say that since 2011 a number of administrative citations has been declining progressively which indicates that there is a decrease in violations in Zov Tigra National Park because people have become aware of a high possibility of being caught and punished for their illegal activities. This also supported by the fact that no cases of poaching were revealed during the nine months of 2013.
We would like to thank everyone who supports this project!
During the second quarter of 2013 the inspectors conducted 20 anti-poaching patrols and covered 2,801 km, including 502 km on foot, in order to reveal and prevent wildlife crimes in Zov Tigra National Park. As a result, three administrative citations were issued upon violators: one for camping outside of the designated campgrounds, one for violation of fire safety rules, and one for illegal presence in the protected area. Patrols were intensified on the North and South areas due to the start of the tourist season and revitalization of ginseng root gatherers.
Within the past few years Zov Tigra National Park has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Primorye, and as a result a large number of tourists flock to the protected area, and most of them prefer entering the Park without getting special permission at the Park’s visitor centre. For example, in May a senior lady was stopped in the Park and was issued a written warning for illegal entering the protected area. In June, a group of tourists was fined for setting up a campfire out of the fire pit area.
We are glad to report that the Park’s specialists found evidence indicating that the number of Amur tigers increased in the national park compared to previous year. It is worth mentioning that at the end of 2012 there was a drastic situation when wolf population began steadily growing within the Park. At least, a few litters of wolf pups were recorded. And there was a danger that wolves could completely destroy the ungulate population in the Park. Luckily, at the beginning of the year 2013 the Park’s employees noticed that the density of tiger tracks significantly increased on the North area of the Park indicating that more tigers appeared there; and as a result in winter the wolf population was displaced by tigers. According to images from camera traps installed in the Park, there are eight Amur tigers and approximately four cubs, all about one year and a half old, living there.
Besides patrolling, the inspectors also were involved in other activities. For example, in April, they cleared a fire break (11 km long between the Kovarny and Kamenka streams) from dry leaves and felled trees in order to prevent ignition there. Also, areas near the Central and Milogradovsky inspector’s stations were cleared from felled trees. Additional campgrounds were built in the Park.
“Generally speaking, a number of violations has decreased compared with the same period of time in 2012”, says Yuri Bersenev, director of the Zov Tigra National Park. “People have become aware of a high possibility of being caught and punished for their illegal activities here”.
We are glad to report that one of the best wildlife rangers of our region fights poaching in the Zov Tigra national park! In September 2012 during the celebration of annual Tiger Day festival in Vladivostok the names of the two Best Rangers of Primorsky province were announced following the result of the anti-poaching work in 2011-2012. For three years the Zov Tigra national park successfully implements law-enforcement monitoring program MIST which allows evaluating the performance of each anti-poaching inspector. This year two best wildlife rangers – Eugeny Terentyev state inspector of the Land of the Leopard national park and Sergei Marchenko state inspector of response team of Zov Tigra national park - were awarded with a trip to India. A visit to the fantastic tiger range country was sponsored by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).
A few weeks ago Sergei return to his homeland and shared some impressions from the trip and tiger protection system in India with his colleagues. The program included visits to three tiger reserves, exchange of experience with Indian rangers and meetings with locals. During the travel Sergei saw a great number of wild animals walking freely around the protected territories and being under reliable protection of the Indian guards. He also mentioned that the protection system is arranged more effective there: camera-traps are placed everywhere, information is instantly transferred through satellite communication to the rangers’ computers. Without leaving a guard post Indian inspectors can see everything that happens in the reserved area. Locals treat the security guards with deep respect and rangers themselves never break the park rules.
Such an experience is very valuable for Russian state inspectors as they feel more appreciation of their effort to protect tiger. Also from seeing the new and different methods of patrol work they can introduce some improvements to the existing protection system of the parks and reserves here in Russia.
Since the creation of the park there are still areas where the foot of inspector never stepped because of poor accessibility of the park. Due to the mountainous terrain to the north and south of the Park and a few surfaced roads, vehicular access is extremely limited and particularly so during winter and spring, when roads become impassable. In June 2012, thanks to financial support from Healthy Planet the Phoenix Fund provided the Park’s anti-poaching teams with a quad bike (ATV). Since July the ATV has been used intensively by the guards and showed great performance.
A GPS Fleet Tracking equipment was installed on the ATV. The Vehicle Tracking System allows to create an electronic record of the movements of the vehicle and constantly keep track of the whereabouts of the vehicle through its communication with various local satellites, and then periodically sends a signal to a database, where the information is stored and analysed.
From July through November the Park lands were protected by two mobile anti-poaching teams: the South and the North teams. They conducted patrols along the perimeter and in the core area of the national park. In addition, two guards were on duty at the entry gates. These guards rotated on a 10 day basis.
During the patrols the teams were checking camps and winter cabins located in the PA, making ambushes on roads leading to the Park, tracking hunters on fresh snow, gathering all tips concerning poaching cases or other violations within the park.
Besides the newly purchased ATV the Park has a snowmobile, two motorcycles, and four jeeps in its arsenal however those vehicles allow the teams to patrol along roads and areas of backcountry. On ATV the inspectors conducted off-road patrols through the Park’s brushy wilderness areas looking for people engaged in illegal activity where they did not manage to get before.
Additionally, the inspectors took measures to prevent, detect and monitor forest fires over the park, constructed feeding stations for ungulates, and explained basic rules of human behaviour in taiga to outdoorsmen in order to make them good, safe and smart wildlife observers.
From July 1st through December 31st 2012 the inspectors of Zov Tigra National Park achieved the following results:
164 anti-poaching patrols were conducted, including
20 off-road patrols on the ATV,
17 administrative citations were issued during the ATV patrols,
13 violations of protection regime were revealed,
1,101 km patrolled on foot,
539 km patrolled on ATV.
This effective work and great results show that the Park where there are two anti-poaching teams needs a second ATV to protect the Amur tiger habitat with the best effort.
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