Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica)
Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 1125923
Amur tiger conservation
The Amur tiger, also known as the Siberian tiger, is one of the largest cats in the
world and is found only in the Russia Far East, although a few may range across
the borders into China and North Korea. In the 1940s, it was on the brink of
extinction with less than 50 individuals remaining in the wild. Fortunately the
subspecies gained protection and recovered due to conservation efforts. Although
the population in Russia has remained relatively stable at between 400 and 500
individuals over the past two decades, Amur tigers are still classified as
Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Even more worrisome are recent reports
suggesting a drop in tiger numbers.
To ensure that the Amur tiger is not lost to extinction, ZSL is implementing an
conservation programme combining population monitoring, anti-poaching
measures and public engagement. By detecting trends in the tiger population and
taking action in response, we hope to secure the future of these big cats.
Protecting one of the last tiger strongholds
ZSL's Amur tiger conservation work is concentrated in and around Lazovsky State
Nature Reserve. At over 120,000 ha, Lazovsky Reserve is the second biggest reserve in
the Russian Far East and the most important area for tiger conservation in the southern
Sikhote-Alin mountain range. For the past 20 years it has supported one of the highest
densities of reproducing Amur tigers - one to three litters are born annually. In 2008,
the federally protected area increased twofold with the establishment of nearby Zov
Tigra National Park.
But small villages and ever increasing roads surround both the reserve and park, making
it easier for poachers to access the forest. Ensuring that tigers and their prey are
protected from poaching is critical to successful conservation in this changing
landscape. To do this, we must not only patrol the forest but also monitor the tiger
population for changes. Monitoring Amur tigers with accuracy is challenging because
tigers are secretive and range over large areas, making them almost impossible to
observe. However, ZSL has succeeded in Lazovsky Reserve due to our experience with
tiger conservation projects throughout tiger range and a field crew with over 16 years of
experience studying wild tigers in Russia.
Crucial need for monitoring and anti-poaching measures.
In 2007, ZSL began monitoring Amur tigers using camera-traps. This method had been rarely used in Russia as Amur tigers have far larger home ranges than other tiger range countries, due to the temperate climate that supports a lower prey population. In most of
their range, Amur tiger densities are so low that a biologist would need to travel hundreds of miles to set enough cameras for meaningful data. Lazovsky, however, has succeeded in raising deer density and as a result, tigers are also relatively thick on the ground. ZSL was the first to use this method in the reserve.
As poaching is the driving force behind recent Amur tiger declines- an estimated 75-85% of all Amur tiger deaths are caused by humans- it is crucial that we stop it. To counter the threat of poaching to tigers and their prey, ZSL, in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society and Phoenix Fund, is working with the Reserve director and staff to improve anti-poaching efforts by implementing a Management Information System called MIST. Development of a long-term MIST database on anti-poaching activities is providing protected area managers with a means to improve the effectiveness of anti-poaching efforts. The next step will be to launch the same system in Zov Tigra National Park.
The project is monitoring trends in the Amur tiger population and taking actions in response to the findings in order to ensure the long-term conservation of the Amur
tiger. Persistent problems, if found, would suggest that our conservation practices are not working and that further action should be taken to improve tiger protection.
The following are a few of the outputs we hope to achieve
over the next few years:
• Stabilise or increase tiger numbers in Lazovsky Reserve.
• Collect baseline data on the tiger population in Zov Tigra National Park.
• Increased anti-poaching management by implementing MIST in both Lazovsky Reserve and Zov Tigra National Park.
• Develop an awareness programme using the cameratrap photographs of tigers.
• Use the awareness programme to highlight the uniqueness of each tiger and to encourage local communities to feel a special connection to "their" local tigers.
Project 1125923 location - Russia, Asia