In northeast China lies vast areas of forest that is the home of Amur tigers. We hear an account about what it takes to protect this area, from Liu Duo, an anti-poaching officer with WWF-China.
My name is Liu Duo and I’ve grown up on our forest farm since childhood. From a young age I’ve formed deep connections with the mountains and forests here, and now I’m protecting them as a WWF anti-poaching officer.
Poaching is a major threat to the survival of Amur tigers and although it’s strictly prohibited by the government, poaching and the illegal wildlife trade still exists. Snares are common and anything trapped in a snare falls victim to their deadly grasp, including tigers. It's hard to stop the poaching but we’re dedicated to our anti-poaching goal which is "zero poaching".
"Anti-poaching" means we stand against poaching. WWF and partners support patrol teams in nature reserves to build their capacity and work together towards strengthening joint law enforcement and community anti-poaching groups. This is all so we can offer a safe home for Amur tigers and leopards.
Being part of an anti-poaching team is hard work behind the scenes. I often walk many kilometers with other rangers to track tigers and maintain our camera traps. Most of the time I only see the footprints and scat of this amazing animal. We also support nature reserves in other ways such as setting up an Anti-poaching Supervision and Evaluation Mechanism Pilot (SAMAP), introducing new management tools and helping to train rangers. But sadly, in many places poaching still occurs; sometimes I ask myself, "when will we achieve zero poaching?"
Mr. Zhan who is a senior ranger once said to me: "Your father is very proud of you. Now we all know that his son is protecting the tigers." I'm very moved by his words. As nature conservationists we try our best and we’re confident zero poaching will be achieved. To support the efforts of rangers we have introduced tools that will increase the protection of these areas. SMART patrolling enables rangers to accurately record patrol routes, signs of poaching and images that can be saved as evidence. SMART patrol is already used as a regular conservation tool in China’s tiger range.
Another conservation tool being used to improve tiger habitat in the area is Conservation Assured Tiger Standards (CA|TS), the world's first accreditation standard for tiger reserves. It can identify areas for improvement in a nature reserve, and then we can help fix the problem. Huangnihe National Nature Reserve is expected to be soon upgraded from a registered CA|TS site to an accredited CA|TS site.
Innovating is critical to stay one step ahead of poachers and so we’ve been working with Intel and Hikvision to introduce artificial intelligence (AI) anti-poaching technology. Manual identification of wildlife is particularly time consuming and it’s hoped the AI can speed this process by automatically identifying wildlife.
For me though the most exciting thing is that the snare density in the anti-poaching pilot area dropped to a very low level; this means the application of SAMAP is effective, and we can confidently promote SAMAP to more nature reserves.
WWF’s government partners, Northeast Tiger and Leopard National Park Administration, Jilin and Heilongjiang Forestry and Grassland Administrations fully understand the importance of the anti-poaching work in protecting tigers. They organise and conduct various forms of anti-poaching actions in key tiger range every year. Together our long-term efforts have been contributing to reducing poaching.
We want to do our job well, safeguard homes, work hard for the goal of "zero-poaching" with our actions, and ensure tigers have a safe home. I grew up surrounded by the forest and for me the anti-poaching patrols not only protects Amur tigers, it connects me to my home and I will continue to safeguard it with my love of nature in my heart.