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 3, 2013

Putin Visits Tiger Rehabilitation Centre

Cub gets medical check-up (c) Inspection Tiger
Cub gets medical check-up (c) Inspection Tiger

On September 1, 2013 that Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Rehabilitation Centre for Rare Species located in Alekseevka village. In his presence two young tigresses that were transported from Khabarovsky krai were released into the Centre’s enclosure.

After the release of 9 and 11-month-old tiger cubs, the President monitored their behaviour and movements by viewing real-time video produced by remote wildlife viewing cameras. The young tigresses began exploring the enclosure. Centre’s caretakers told Vladimir Putin about the wildlife rehabilitation process. They said that they help tiger cubs develop their stalking and hunting skills at the first moment the animals appear in the centre by releasing first rabbits and later roe deer into the enclosure with tigers.

In May, Cinderella tigress was successfully released back into the wild in Bastak Nature Reserve, Jewish Autonomous Province.

We are monitoring its (tigress’s — editor’s note) location”, said Centre’s worker showing the dynamics of animal’s movements on the information board.

It is better not to show it; poachers can catch it”, said Putin. The President asked about the current level of funding for the Centre and wondered how much money is required for its smooth operation. According to the Centre’s specialists, the Centre, a wood plot of 3 hectares, cost about 11 million roubles. And about 1 million roubles per year are needed to keep one tiger at the Centre. Thus, over 30 million roubles are needed for smooth full-time operation of the Centre during the year. Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergei Donskoi informed that about 3-4 million roubles are going to be allocated soon. Putin asked Donskoi to do calculations and find the way for financing the Centre.

So far, the rehabilitation of tigers at the Centre was carried out by the specialists of Inspection Tiger and A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences with support from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Phoenix Fund, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Russian Geographical Society. Transportation of the two tiger cubs from Khabarovsky krai has become possible thanks to donations from our supporters. Now, there are five tiger cubs at the Centre, and their rehabilitation requires big investments of money,” says Director of the Phoenix Fund Sergei Bereznuk. “Given that, we hope that officials not only from Moscow-based agencies but also from Primorsky krai Administration will pay attention to this project”.

Oct 2, 2013

A leopard festival

Dance performance on stage (c) Phoenix Fund
Dance performance on stage (c) Phoenix Fund

Saving rare species can be ensured not only by protecting their habitat and fighting poaching. At Phoenix Fund we believe that education of the local communities can contribute greatly to Amur leopard conservation in a long term. This is why on September 21, 2013, staff members of the Phoenix Fund took part in the Leopard and Sea Festival that was celebrated in Slavyanka.

The holiday devoted to the one of the rarest cats on the planet – the Amur leopard – has a long history. Over ten years ago thanks to local ecological NGOs, namely the Phoenix Fund and World Wildlife Fund, and with support from the Administration of Khasan district, there was a series of educational and entertaining events in local villages and on the seashore – two famous beaches in Slavyanka and Andreevka. Even then the organizers of the holiday wanted to reach out to residents and guests of the Khasan district with the following message: Leopard and sea are inseparately linked, and the fate of present and future generations depends on the state of leopard population and the status of marine resources. Traditionally, on the eve of the holiday there were clean-up actions during which volunteers collected trash and marine debris on the beaches.

This year the interconnection between this rare big cat and the sea reflected in the name of the festival – Leopard and Sea – and during the holiday one could see close cooperation between specialists of Land of the Leopard National Park and Far Eastern Marine Nature Reserve. The holiday was held on the central square of Slavyanka town. Teams of schoolchildren from almost all settlements of the Khasan district arrived to participate in the holiday. The registered participants gathered near local recreation centre. The festival started with a festive procession from the recreational centre to the central square of Slavyanka. Then, there was a Dance Flash Mob, during which representatives of each school team performed on the stage showing various dance moves, and the audience joined them quickly repeating the dance steps and movements. A group of children from local Rodnichok eco-club (gymnasia #1, Slavyanka, run by teacher Natalia Drobysheva), that the Phoenix Fund has been supporting for over 10 years, excited the audience with its energy. Then, the school teams competed in the following contests: “Fashion Show in Animals Costumes», “Drawing on Asphalt”, “Merry Relay” and “Connoisseurs”.

Jul 15, 2013

Successful rehabilitation

Cinderella
Cinderella's transportation to release site

On May 8th, the tigress Cinderella was finally released back to the wild in the Bastak Nature Reserve in Jewish Autonomous Province! These entire time specialists were closely watching its every step and we keep on receiving the good news from the reserve.

The coordinates received through a satellite from Cinderella’s collar allowed us to follow the movements of a tigress, and have even shown the sites of her first hunting. After the release from the enclosure where a regular food was provided by the keepers, animals might have troubles with finding prey by themselves. On this stage it was especially important to register the fact of Cinderella’s successful hunting in new conditions.  The route of tigress’s movements in the reserve, with stops for 2-3 days, allowed specialists to track down some of her kills. Several badgers and a wild boar became the first prey of a tigress.  The recent coordinates from her collar also confirmed the facts of successful hunting. Having verified that in natural conditions Cinderella behaves as a normal wild tiger, the employees of Inspection Tiger are going to leave their post in Bastak and delegate responsibilities for tiger tracking to reserve’s rangers.

In the meantime we will keep on following the fate of the tigress, and support the rehabilitation of the three tiger cubs that still reside in the Rehabilitation Center for Rare Species.

Recently the two cubs (brothers) were moved to former Cinderella’s enclosure. They are doing well according to the keeper and already got comfortable in the new open-air cage. Like Cinderella they avoid people whenever someone gets to the center or approaches the enclosure to give food they hide in the remote secluded part of their new home. In June the specialist are going to start their “hunting training” by providing the prey, rabbits for the beginning.

The third cub remains in the separate enclosure. He also gains weight and acts like a wild animal that can be released into the wild in future.  

We would like to thank all our supporters who made the release of Cinderella possible through donations at GlobalGiving! In spite of a cruel destiny prepared for the small orphaned tiger cub, and thanks to aspiration of specialists to save and rehabilitate the rare animal, Cinderella got her chance for a normal life. In spite of pessimistic predictions of some experts claiming that the tigress should be placed in a zoo, she roams freely in the protected forest.

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