save the tiger

    This year in celebration of the chinese Year of The Tiger (February 14, 2010 - February 2, 2011), the Tai Chi Center of Chicago in collaboration with the Field Museum of Chicago and the Wildlife Conservation Society has created the "SAVE THE AMUR TIGER" initiative that is open to all.

    The mission is to learn more about the magnificent Amur tiger, and to receive donated funds from anyone who loves and cares that he/she continues to have a place to live within its natural habitat. All donated fund will go directly to the "China Tiger Program," operated by the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Thank you friends of the Amur Tiger, over $1,500 was donated!

    Save The Amur Tiger Project

    In the southernmost reaches of the Russian Far East, the Sikhote-Alin Mountain ecosystem is a vast forested complex home to a unique variety of large carnivores, including brown bears, Asiatic black bears, wolves, wolverine, and Eurasian lynx. This dense, temperate forest landscape also supports the world's last remaining Siberian tigers.

    Wildlife Conservation Society has been studying wildlife populations in the region since 1992, and continues to seek creative conservation solutions to balance the needs of local rural communities while ensuring the survival of iconic species. Siberian tigers require vast, intact habitats to survive in these low-productivity, northern temperate forests. But with less than 15 percent of the Sikhote-Alin landscape protected, smart, conservation-based management of the entire region is key, both inside and outside protected areas.

...Along the Chinese border with the Russian Far East, roughly 400 tigers can still be found (the Siberian or Amur subspecies), most of them still on the Russian side of the border (where we have worked to save them since 1993). This is the last great hope for tigers in China -- there are definitely some that live on the Chinese side of the border, and they also cross back and forth with relative impunity.

Wildlife Conservation Society is focusing our work in this region on a number of initiatives. One is increasing the prey base for tigers -- there is huge amounts of habitat for tigers left in NE China, but much of it is "empty forest," nearly stripped of prey species such as wild boar and red deer by poaching with snares. WCS has run an anti-poaching campaign for a number of years now, bringing Chinese people from all walks of life across China (to huge media attention within the country) to enter the forests and remove snares -- initially over 7,000 snares in one campaign, but the number has decreased dramatically since we began, strongly suggesting that this effort, coupled with a strong education campaign aimed at stopping illegal poaching and taking pride in tigers, is working.

Our tiger education campaign recently resulted in Hunchun, a major city in the region, naming itself "Home of the Amur Tiger" -- and just this November there was a three-day Tiger Festival that WCS co-hosted to raise awareness, with over 1,000 people marching in a parade and tiger art, costumes, and competitions for both adults and children. We also work with local communities out in the forest areas where tigers live to find ways to decrease loss of livestock from tigers to help the locals earn better incomes while becoming more comfortable living in what is fast becoming tiger range again.

If we can continue to bring back prey and improve people's pride and comfort in living in proximity to tigers, we feel there is a real chance for tigers to make a full recovery in Northeast China. In fact, this is undoubtedly the best place to increase tiger numbers in the world -- almost everywhere else, tigers live in tiny protected areas surrounded by a sea of humanity. In Northeast China, there are still large tracts of forest that could once again contain this magnificent big cat -- and there is a population directly across the border in Russia that can act as the source of these tigers.

Peter Zahler - Wildlife Conservation Society

    Fast Facts

  • Because northern temperate forests support few prey, Siberian tigers require vast territories - about 175 square miles for each female. In contrast, female Bengal tigers, where prey densities are high, may retain territories of 8 square miles or less.

  • About 50 percent of Siberian tigers die before they become a year old, often because their mothers have been poached.

  • The Sikkhote-Alin ecosystem holds one of the world's last populations of wild ginseng - considered by some to be the "elixir of youth."

  • The Sikhote-Alin Mountains represent the merger point of Asian and boreal flora and fauna. A large number of species have either their northern (for Asian species) or southern (for boreal species) distribution borders in the Sikhote-Alin Mountains. Therefore, a unique blend of species occurs here - lynx and leopards, brown bears and Himalayan black bears, tigers and wolves.

    Threats and Challenges

    Siberian tigers share the majority of their habitat with people, including 60,000 hunters, logging enterprises, and villagers who harvest a wide variety of herbs, berries, and nuts from the forest. Therefore, a two-pronged strategy is essential: On the one hand, a network of protected areas must provide a haven safe from poachers and loggers. Outside protected areas, "tiger friendly" management regimes must be implemented to provide economic incentives for local people to protect the natural resources they depend upon. Poaching is a key threat for tigers and other large, wide-ranging carnivores. Effective law enforcement is critical to ensure the survival of both tigers and their prey.

    WCS Responds

    Working across boundaries, WCS helped design a comprehensive protected areas network that links key tiger habitat across the Russian Far East mountain ecosystem. Work is now underway to extend connectivity into Northeast China, to help the tiger population recover there, too. Our scientists organized the last range-wide census of tigers in the landscape, which showed that the big cats' population had stabilized, evidence that conservation efforts are working. We are also collaborating with local partners to develop action plans to manage unprotected lands in a way that is compatible with conservation goals, and to manage healthy populations of key prey animals, like red deer and wild boar. This will help support a long-term future for tigers and other carnivores. Additionally, we are developing innovative business plans that will link economic development in depressed regions to "tiger-friendly" conservation initiatives, using the power of green consumerism to change local perspectives on tigers. When necessary, we work with local government officials to alleviate tiger-human conflicts through relocating or otherwise deterring problem tigers from sites where they are considered a nuisance.

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