The Amur tiger population has come a long way from the brink of extinction. From just around 20 tigers in the 1930s, there are now more than 500 in the Russian Far East, thanks to a joint tiger conservation programme between WWF and the Russian government. But this success story has a flip side.
As the tiger population recovers and requires more space, human population and activity has also grown in this region. This has resulted in more frequent conflict between humans and tigers. Commonly termed as Human Tiger Conflicts (HTCs), the number of such incidents has doubled since 2010.
Resolving human tiger conflicts is key for the long-term well-being of both tigers and people. A number of measures are already in place to prevent, manage and finally resolve them.
A new study, The Way of the Tiger: A WWF report on human-tiger conflicts in the Russian Far East, provides a first comprehensive analysis of the Amur tiger’s evolving situation in terms of conflict with people, including the conservation measures and results, as well as the countermeasures in resolving them.
According to the report, a total of 279 HTCs were reported in the period between 2000 and 2016, resulting in the deaths of 33 tigers around the same time period.
“Given the growing tiger population and human activities in the region, this number is more than likely to rise even further in the near future,”warns Pavel Fomenko, head of the rare species conservation unit of WWF-Russia Amur branch.
RAPID RESPONSE TEAMS
In addition, Russia became the first country to create government-sponsored Rapid Response Teams to resolve Human Tiger Conflicts.
Since 2000, two rehabilitation centres for tigers and other wild animals have been set up.
Between 2000-2016, 24 tigers were placed in rehabilitation centres. Between 2009-2016, a total of 13 tigers (nine tiger cubs and four young adults) were released into the wild after rehabilitation.
Ten of them were tagged with GPS collars to monitor their movements to prevent them from becoming involved in HTCs again.
The report includes a number of WWF recommendations for the Rapid Response Teams’ activities.
Alexey Kostyria, a senior coordinator of the Rare Species Conservation Unit of WWF Russia Amur branch, sums up:
“In dealing with tiger attacks on domestic animals, we recommend that the Rapid Response Teams explore additional techniques and technologies. In addition, they should collect data to evaluate their effectiveness.”
Tiger cubs, Lazovsky and Pozharsky, will be released later this spring! Look out for their updates on our Instagram and other social accounts!
LAZOVSKY AND POZHARSKY
This coming spring, two young cubs named Lazovsky and Pozharsky will be released into the wild.
Little Lazovsky is a tiger cub sighted regularly near the village dump site last December without a mother. Temperatures dipped to a dangerous – 25°C. The government had made the decision to capture him to be released after rehabilitation with the support of WWF and the Amur Tiger Centre.
He is placed at the same rehabilitation centre as Pozharsky who survived serious injuries in his nose and face. They are likely caused by gunshots from a poacher but an urgent nose surgery has helped to restore his breathing.