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The rugged landscape of Land of the Leopard National Park lies in one of the most biologically diverse temperate forests in the world. Located at the southernmost point of the Russian Far East, temperatures here can drop to as low as -40°C and it is home to the biggest of the big cats, the Amur tiger.
Conservation efforts in the Land of the Leopard National Park have generated incredible results and have surpassed the global goal to double wild tiger numbers, known as TX2, by tripling their tiger population. We asked Alexey Kostyria, WWF-Russia’s Senior Biodiversity Project Officer, to explain how this incredible progress was achieved.
The Land of the Leopard National Park was first established in 2012 and is the only place left in the world that has Amur leopards, in 2012 there were estimated to only be 40-50 individuals left. The Amur tiger population here was also concerningly low and estimated at 9-10 individuals. With strong commitment from the Russian government and support from partners such as WWF-Russia the tide has turned for Amur tigers and leopards in the National Park.
Video: Two tigers caught on camera trap during 2021 in Land of the Leopard National Park in the Russian Far East. Ensure your sound is turned up to hear them roar.
Previously, the poaching of ungulates as well as forest fires in the National Park seriously threatened the future of Amur tigers and other wildlife here. Over the last decade the Russian government has funded conservation efforts to address these threats.
More rangers are patrolling the area which discourages illegal activity such as poaching and deforestation. These efforts are proving to be successful and tiger prey species such as ungulates are now increasing in the National Park, meaning there’s more food to support a larger population of tigers.
WWF-Russia supports the government with a camera trapping programme that monitors tigers in the National Park all year round. The most recent results estimate the Amur tiger population at 30 individuals while there are thought to be more than 90 Amur leopards. Conservation efforts are clearly working here.
One final success of Land of the Leopard National Park is it’s a functioning wildlife corridor, securing the main route for tigers moving across the border to China’s Northeast China Amur Tiger and Leopard National Park. Connectivity is critical to enable tigers to move to new territories to access food and a mate and in the long term this helps to increase the tiger population on both sides of the border.
The success of conservation in the Land of the Leopard National Park is clear: tripling the number of wild tigers is an incredible achievement.
I’ve worked for decades studying tigers and in my opinion the tiger is one of the most charismatic carnivores. They’re a critical part of the food chain as well as being a key indicator of a healthy ecosystem and this is why we must protect the tiger and its home here in the Russian Far East.