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.