A rare video of a protective tigress and her playful cubs 30 kilometers from the Russian border is evidence that wild Amur tigers are returning to China. The footage captured by a WWF camera trap is the first infrared video of a tiger family so deep into China.
In the past, elusive paw prints have been the only evidence of Amur tigers so distant from the border area. The WWF video of the tiger family is the result of decades of conservation work aimed at establishing an inland breeding Amur tiger population in China.
The two cubs were confirmed to be approximately one-and-a-half years old by Professor Jiang Guangshun, Executive Vice-Director of China’s State Forestry Administration’s Feline Research Center.
“Many years of conservation work have led to this stunning footage – establishing conservation areas, building a population of prey animals and installing over one hundred infrared cameras in largely inaccessible areas.” Shi Quanhua, Senior Manager - WWF China, Asian Big Cats Program.
WWF’s Amur Tiger Conservation Plan designated China’s combined Wangqing-Hunchun-Suiyang-Dongning Area as a priority zone for wild Amur tiger conservation in 2010. Conservation projects in the area include the reintroduction of tiger prey, such as deer, and the maintenance of corridors that allow China’s tiger population to move freely. WWF’s work in the region is strongly supported by the Jilin Provincial Forestry Department.
Amur tigers were once found throughout northern China, the Russian Far East and the Korean peninsula. By the 1940s, hunting had driven them to the brink of extinction—with no more than 40 individuals remaining in the wild. Russia was the first country to grant the Amur tiger full protection, saving the species and bringing today’s global population to over 430 individuals with the majority living in Russia and at least 18-20 adult individuals in the border areas of China.
"Seeing these positive outcomes from our efforts greatly strengthens our confidence that wild Amur tiger populations can be restored” Wang Fuyou, Division head - Wangqing Nature Reserve, Conservation department.