In February 2015, the simultaneous count of Amur tigers showed that about 523-540 Amur tigers occur today in the Russian Far East. Despite sustained conservation efforts over recent years and encouraging recent monitoring results, the big cats still remain at risk due to poaching, logging, forest fires, and prey depletion. Every year the wild populations of Amur tigers and Amur leopards officially lose up to ten individuals due to poaching, collisions with vehicles and other causes of death. According to official statistics and trusted sources, as many as 11 Amur tigers died from January through June 2017. The ongoing alarming mortality in these species requires powerful solutions if we are to be successful in halting the loss of invaluable endangered wildlife.
In this regard, thanks to support from GlobalGiving donors and other charitable organizations Phoenix and WCS continued implementing its complex conservation programme with the objectives to improve law enforcement efforts within the protected areas and to raise people’s awareness about the state of the Amur tiger population.
Since the beginning of the year rangers conducted 535 anti-poaching patrols in the project site. They covered almost 2.000 km on foot patrols and over 42.000 km on vehicles, snowmobiles and ATVs. Considering such an intense law-enforcement effort and constant presence of rangers on the protected area poachers try to stay away and there were only 11 infringement and other minor violations registered from January through August 2017! The consistent pattern in decreasing poaching levels can be clearly observed in the attached diagram.
The scientific tiger monitoring work in the Sikhote-Alin was also very fruitful. Since late 2016 through September 2017 tiger specialists set up and then checked 66 camera traps. They received more than 29.000 photographs in total and now these images with Amur tigers and other animals are being analized.
To cope with the second major objective of our conservation programme we conduct an extensive ecological education and outreach campaign. The most colorful, memorable and large scale action devoted to Amur tiger is the Tiger Day festival.
This year, the Tiger Day in Terney was celebrated on September 16th. More than half a thousand people gathered in the park of the district center to express their love and devotion to the rare big cat, and also to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the nature reserves’ system in Russia. Traditionally, the beginning of the holiday was marked by a carnival procession. Schoolchildren from the villages of Roshchino, Plastun, Krasny Yar, Amgu and Kavalerovo arrived to Terney for the Tiger Day celebrations.
Festival organizers - the Phoenix Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society, Uragus eco-center and Sikhote-Alin reserve arranged 12 thematic sites to entertain and educate the guests. Among the festival sites there were creative workshops, such as the production of figures from balloons and soft wire, coloring of animal masks, pottery, painting on bandanas, tiger make-up, drawing on sand and painting bas-reliefs. The participants also had a shot at sports sections dedicated to tigers. The winners of all sections were solemnly awarded on stage.
In the evening, the celebration of the Tiger Day continued with a musical concert, a screening of the film about the beauties of the Sikhote-Alin and fireworks. At dusk, the guests of the holiday took part in a flash mob: dozens of flashlights were lit in the form of the figure 100 and were photographed from a drone, marking the 100th anniversary of the reserve system in Russia. Besides Terney, the annual tiger festival was celebrated in Novopokrovka, Lazo, Kirovka and Luchegorsk. On September 24th, Tiger Day will be celebrated in Vladivostok.
A large number of people do their utmost to protect and preserve Amur tigers of the Sikhote-Alin and we are grateful for the support from our GlobalGiving donors.