SMART patrol routes
We want to thank you for the support of our new project “Save Wild Tigers of Sikhote-Alin” and present you with a report on successful project activities implemented in the first half of 2017. We truly value each and every donation you make towards the conservation of unique species that are on the brink of extinction.
In 2017 each of the six patrol teams of three to five rangers were patrolling the core tiger breeding area in Sikhote-Alin for 28-30 days per month. Rangers checked the assigned territory at different time of the day, laid ambushes and also conducted about 40 night patrols every month. The effectiveness of law enforcement operations conducted by the teams was achieved through SMART program. The Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) is a tool for measuring, evaluating and improving the effectiveness of anti-poaching patrols and site-based conservation activities. One of the most important observations that SMART offers to law enforcement staff is the map of revealed violations. In Sikhote-Alin protected area (PA), all the crimes took place at the borders. Having realized that most of violations happen at the roads leading to the PA and around its borders, including logging roads, in 2017 the teams conducted more vehicle patrols checking the sites of most probable infringements. Each month the teams covered over 250 km on foot patrols and about 1200 km on vehicle patrols.
With SMART data, we can clearly see that the anti-poaching teams work very well in preventing wildlife crimes and detain violators at the approaches to the core tiger breeding areas. Therefore, in the first half of 2017 no cases of poaching took place there; however the rangers issued a number of administrative citations for illegal trespassing.
Moreover, the teams began to go deeper inside the reserve comparing to previous years. Although no poachers were detained there, it is good practice to ensure proper protection of core reserve territory. Tiger population in Sikhote-Alin is more or less stable now, with a tendency to increase. The good thing is that the number of litters has been increasing for the last years. Just five years ago no tiger cub was recorded, but now there are at least four litters in the protected territory.
Besides Amur tiger protection the law enforcement efforts by the rangers in Sikhote-Alin ensure safety of another valued animal - the Musk deer. Musk deer are small, shy, fanged deer targeted by poachers across Asia for the musk gland found in males, a substance that, gram from gram, is more valuable than gold.
Among the conclusions of a study published recently in the peer-reviewed journal Oryx, researchers from WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society), The Russian Academy of Sciences, Sikhote-Alin Reserve, and World Wildlife Fund found that logging activities inadvertently exacerbate the poaching problem by providing easy access for poachers in the Sikhote-Alin Mountains of the Russian Far East.
“Poachers drive to freshly-logged areas and set snares there for musk deer,” said Dasha, a graduate student at the Pacific Geographical Institute who led the fieldwork component of this project. There is a thriving black market for musk glands, used in the perfume industry and in Eastern medicine, and logging roads built to facilitate timber extraction make these deer easier to reach.
Thanks to the support from the GlobalGiving community and other charitable foundations, we are able to keep SMART law enforcement program running in Sikhote-Alin protected area and also achieved a mitigating solution that is being adopted by the logging company to make sure both species - Amur tiger and Musk deer won’t suffer from poaching. In partnership with the primary timber company in the region we try to identify which logging roads most threaten Amur tigers, musk deer and other important wildlife and to block human access to these areas.
Observations of Amur tigers
Musk deer (c) Dale Miquelle
Rangers on a patrol (c) Roman Kozhichev